UPDATE: Former WSAZ Hometown Hero Loses Battle With Cancer

By: WSAZ News Staff; The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ News Staff; The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 11/14/13
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former WSAZ Hometown Hero has lost her battle with cancer.

8-year-old Mailyn Chandler, of Louisa, Kentucky passed away Wednesday after a 5-year battle with cancer.

Mailyn was honored as a WSAZ Hometown Hero in 2011, after the then 5-year-old Mailyn, who had spent so much time in the pediatric oncology area at Cabell Huntington Hospital, gave her Christmas gifts to children in need.

That year for Christmas, all Mailyn asked for was a bone marrow transplant.

After her request, the hospital held several bone marrow drives to help her find a match.

Mailyn's story also made headlines several months later after inmates at the Mount Olive Correctional Center in West Virginia saw Mailyn's story on the news. The inmates held two days of fundraisers and donated the money they made every month. The inmates sent a check to Mailyn's family for $1,029.

Visitation will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday at Richardson Chapel Church in Lawrence County, Kentucky.

The funeral will be Sunday at 1 p.m. at the church.

Personal condolences can be made on the funeral home's website, which can be found in the link below Mailyn's picture.

UPDATE 11/9/11
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - The mother of a 6-year-old leukemia patient from Kentucky says she was shocked to learn the strangers behind a care package for her daughter and a $1,029 check are inmates at a West Virginia prison.

Amy Chandler of Louisa, Ky., says the Mount Olive
Correctional Complex inmates raised money for daughter Mailyn after they saw a TV report on her illness and struggle to find a bone marrow donor.

The family has spent much of the past 18 months at a Huntington hospital.

Substance abuse counselor Cecilia Matheney says the prisoners advertised their fundraiser then sat in the rain for two days taking donations.

Inmates earn an average of $65 a month, so the contributions were a sacrifice.

But Matheney says helping others is part of their recovery.

UPDATE 2/27/11 @ 5:26 P.M.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It was a magical weekend for a little girl who is constantly fighting an uphill battle.

Mailyn Chandler is just five years old, and has already lived a rough life.

“It's not very often that she gets to do much of anything,” Amy Chandler, said Mailyn’s mom. “She spends more time at the hospital than we do at home.”

At the age of two, Mailyn was diagnosed with leukemia. Aside from her ongoing health battle, she’s just like any other little girl, who aspires to be a princess.

“Her wish for Make a Wish was to go to Disneyland, but her doctor said absolutely not,” Amy said.

Even though she couldn't be Disneyland's princess for a day, a good friend helped her become Charleston’s princess.

“I found out Disney on ice was here, so I just worked a little magic and got her here,” Charles Ferrell said.

Ferrell worked with the show's organizers to make sure Mailyn received the full princess treatment. She and her mom stayed in a hotel, were escorted to the show and Mailyn even got to ride in the princess carriage. Now, he just wishes he could wave the magic wand and find a bone marrow match.

“I won't give up,” Ferrell said. “I promised her I wouldn't and I won't.”

Ferrell has scheduled two bone marrow drives in the upcoming weeks. The first is at Marshall University, March 8th from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The other is at the Town Center Mall in Charleston, March 9th from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

UPDATE 2/26/11
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Bone marrow drives are scheduled early next month in Charleston and Huntington to seek a match for a 5-year-old girl battling leukemia.

Mailyn Chandler's family says the disease has left her with only a 50 percent chance of survival.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the national Be the Match Registry will host a marrow drive in March at Marshall University and March 9 at the Charleston Town Center Mall. The registry has hosted several drives this year in West Virginia in support of Mailyn and thousands of other patients in search of a potential lifesaving marrow match.

People ages 18 to 60 can register, which involves filling out a medical form and having a swab taken from inside the volunteer's mouth.

UPDATE 2/3/11
Huntington, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- You could be the one to save a life not with your blood, but with your tissue.

Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with leukemia and other life threatening diseases. Your marrow could be the difference between life and death.

It's a story that hit home this holiday season for one man desperate to grant a seemingly impossible wish. But, even Santa sometimes needs a little help to get the job done.

“I asked her what she wanted and she said, I want a bone marrow transplant,” Pete said.

Most folks know him as Pete Smentkowski. But, during Christmas, he's Santa! That's how he met five-year-old Mailyn Chandler. Our own Tim Irr recently featured her as a WSAZ Hometown Hero.

The five-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two.

“No five-year-old should know the words bone marrow transplant. For Christmas, she should only be concerned with asking for a doll or a dollhouse or something fun like that,” Pete said.

And though Pete wasn't sure how he was going to grant her wish, he knew he had to try. That's what sparked this bone marrow drive at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

Whittney and Courtney Handley are here for their grandmother. She was recently diagnosed with leukemia.

“We want to help her, but if we’re not a match for her, but can help someone else, we want to do that. And we hope others come to help because maybe they could turn out to be a match for her,” said Courtney.

And that's the general sense here. Folks may have come with a specific person in mind. But, in the end, they just want to help wherever they can.

“You can be in registry until you’re 61. So, you could get called at any time,” said Betsy Letterle, National Bone Marrow Donor Program.

The process is very simple. You just swab between your cheek and your gum four times. It’s a small investment to make to really impact someone’s life.

“Folks are rolled off the registry when they turn 61, so we need to constantly replace those people and then we also want to grow the registry,” said Betsy.

But, in the end, the only thing you really need to remember is this face as a representation of the thousands who could really use your help.

The drive at Cabell Huntington Hospital is going on until seven Thursday night so there's still time to go help.

There's another drive in Charleston Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the American Legion post 20 on Dickinson St. and Sunday from noon to 4pm at the American Legion in Milton.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- We picture super heroes as muscle bound, caped crusaders leaping tall buildings. But how about a real super hero who's 5 years old and stuck in a hospital bed?

Mailyn Chandler's little body has been struggling with leukemia since the age of 2. Her spirit is undaunted -- her smile, infectious. Her generosity to family members is enormous. So much so, they nominated her as this week's WSAZ Hometown Hero.

Christmas is a special time for all kids. It's like they can't get enough presents. For Mailyn , the giving part was much better than the receiving part. It's not that she didn't appreciate her gifts, especially the ones that showcase her talents.

"I have tons of art supplies," the feisty little girl says from her hospital bed.

The art supplies help Mailyn pass the time in the pediatric oncology area at Cabell Huntington Hospital, where Mailyn has spent much of the last three years. Even at such a tender age, Mailyn had a much more important gift in mind last month.

"When Santa came to visit before Christmas," says Charles Shumaker, a hospital administrator, "Mailyn told him she wanted a bone marrow transplant. That sort of got the ball rolling."

As things were moving along, the hospital sponsored a bone marrow donor registration drive at Cabell Huntington and several other locations (see below).

Those drives may even lead to a match for Mailyn and a lot of other people. Mailyn's mother, Amy Chandler, is simply amazed at her daughter's strength.

"She knows about the disease and understands it," Amy says. "She may not fully comprehend the diagnosis, but she knows she's sick and she knows cancer is bad."

Despite all that, Mailyn just keeps giving. She heard that her cousins in Louisa, Ky., might not have much under the tree at Christmas.

"My cousin was just going to get a football for Christmas," Mailyn says.

So, she decided to give up her toys. After all that giving, Mailyn's relatives decided it was time to repay the kindness. They nominated her as a WSAZ Hometown Hero.

But the giving didn't stop there. Mailyn was also recently featured in a newsletter to help raise awareness and funds for the Ronald McDonald House, located near Cabell Huntington.

If you would like to see if you might qualify to be a bone marrow donor, check out the website www.BeTheMatch.org or stop by one of the three upcoming Mailyn Chandler Bone Marrow Drives at the following locations:

  • Feb. 3
    Cabell Huntington Hospital
    2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Feb. 5
    American Legion
    415 Dickenson Street
    11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Feb. 6
    American Legion Post 139
    12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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