Sweet and loving, fiery and tough, Natalie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2012. Cancer-free for a year, Natalie has resumed a childhood that was interrupted.
Once you’ve seen a child battle cancer you can’t unsee it, you can’t unsee the pain.
Andrea Verdone Gorsegner
Her mother, Andrea Verdone Gorsegner, says the family is back to normal, but childhood cancer is now part of the family. “Once you’ve seen a child battle cancer you can’t unsee it, you can’t unsee the pain.”
She describes her “amazing” older daughter, Hannah, as one of the biggest advocates for promoting awareness. Twice in two years, Natalie’s big sister cut her hair and shaved her head on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as part of a broader campaign. During Natalie’s treatment, Andrea says Hackensack University Medical Center became a second home, where doctors and nurses know each child individually, and oncologists respect and value parents’ input and insight.
Andrea reflects on a point in Natalie’s 10-month treatment, after she suffered complications involving seizures. “She was in bed resting and I was lying next to her. She put her little hand on my cheek and said, ‘thank you, Mommy.’ It was as if she knew I was her advocate with her every second of the way.”
A magazine photo editor who left work on the day of Natalie’s diagnosis and never returned, Andrea has made it her mission to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research.
“It changed everything. It changed our family dynamic. It changed our priorities.” Natalie’s father, Dan Gorsegner, reflects. “She’s just a very strong, very brave, very unique little girl.”
Andrea agrees. “Natalie is a remarkable little girl and I feel honored every day that I was chosen to be her mother.”