Community Rallies Together For Duluth Girl Battling Cancer

By KBJR News 1

January 18, 2012 Updated Jan 19, 2012 at 12:10 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- A Duluth family is facing a parent's worst nightmare as they struggle to keep their little girl alive.
Six year old Annika Linberg is battling a rare form of Leukemia...and it isn't the first time.

LeAnn Wallace tells us about this brave little girl and a community that has rallied around her family.

Six year old Annika is all too familiar with doctor's offices and waiting rooms.

"She's an amazing little girl that's been through a lot," said Annika's dad, Kurt Linberg.

When Annika was just three she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. She fought back that time and went into remission. That reprieve lasted until now.

"In August we were told it came back, so we were like devastated, we had never experienced, it felt like a body slam."

But little Annika bravely took up the fight again, beginning intense chemotherapy. But Doctors said she needed something else, a bone marrow transplant.

Her parents had thought ahead and were able to produce a perfectly matched donor. When Annika's little sister Katy was born, their oncologist recommended saving her cord blood, just in case.

"But we thought, you know...we'll never need it, and we needed it, and that's what's saving Annika, Katy's cord blood."

As costs mount friends of the Linberg's are organizing a benefit to help the family pay for extensive medical bills and transportation.

"I think that Duluth as a whole is a really good community and they can really stand beside each other," said Jess Kramer.

A blood and marrow drive is also being held to help other families.

"You never know when that's going to be somebody in your family somebody that's a friend of yours, one in three people will need blood in the course of their lifetime," said Tania McVean of Memorial Blood Centers.

For now Annika and her family are okay, but have learned never to take life's beauty for granted.

"When she started losing her hair, it was very traumatic for her and she asked me if I would shave my head and I said sure," said Annika's mom, Adrienne Linberg.

"What I was trying to convey to her was it's not about how you look or how much hair you have or how much hair you don't have, it's about who you are inside," continued Adrienne.

"Something for Annika" will be held this Saturday at the College of Saint Scholastica including a spaghetti dinner, silent auction, and blood and marrow drive.

The benefit will be held at Somers Hall from 3pm-7pm.

The blood and bone marrow drive will continue at Lutheran Church of Good Shepard from 8:30 - 11:30 Sunday morning, January 22nd.