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Deer Park Girl Named Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's 'Girl of the Year'

Funds for cancer research will be raised in honor of 6-year-old Piper Novak, an acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor from Deer Park.

Piper Novak, of Deer Park, is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Girl of the Year." Credit: LLS
Piper Novak, of Deer Park, is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Girl of the Year." Credit: LLS

Piper Novak, 6, of Deer Park, has been named Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) 2014 Girl of the Year and will serve as an inspiration for candidates in LLS’s annual Man & Woman of the Year competition, according to a press release.

The Boy and Girl of the Year are local cancer survivors who motivate community leaders in their efforts to raise the most funds and win the titles of Man & Woman of the Year. The 2014 Boy of the Year is Frankie Sobie of Plainfield.

Man & Woman of the Year kicks off March 6and is a dynamic campaign during which local leaders compete to raise the most money for blood cancer research and support programs for patients. Every dollar raised counts as one vote, and the local man and woman with the most votes win the titles of Man & Woman of the Year.

Piper's Story

In 2010, Piper was two and a half years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). At diagnosis, 99 percent of Piper’s blood cells were cancerous, so she required a rigorous treatment protocol to rid her body of cancer. At Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, she received a bone marrow biopsy, spinal tap and multiple blood transfusions, and began chemotherapy.

"Piper celebrated her third birthday in the hospital and slept in her tiara and earrings," said Julie Novak, Piper’s mother. "She would not let cancer ruin her day."

Two years later, in Sept. 2012, after more than 700 doses of chemotherapy, 28 spinal taps, four surgeries and more visits to the hospital than her mom can count, Piper finished treatment. Today, she remains cancer-free and is a spunky kindergartner who loves playing with her stuffed animals and eating steak.

"We are so appreciative to Piper and her family for being willing to share the experience of leukemia," said LLS executive director Pam Swenk. "As hard as it is to tell the story, it helps people understand how important the Man & Woman of the Year campaign is and what a difference the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society makes."

Piper and Frankie will be recognized throughout the Man & Woman of the Year campaign, which culminates in the Grand Finale Gala on Saturday, May 17 at the Swissôtel in Chicago.

The evening will celebrate the achievements of all candidates over the preceding 10 weeks, and will include live and silent auctions, cocktails, dinner and live entertainment. Tickets are available at mwoy.org/il, as is more information about the Man & Woman of the Year campaign.

Those interested in becoming involved as a candidate, committee member or nominator should contact Ashley Carlson at Ashley.Carlson@lls.org or (312) 568-7741.

Submitted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

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