Former cancer patients rally around 9-year-old girl as she battles her own diagnosis

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Violet Rich, 9, is ready to go home after spending nearly two months at the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent.

"Violet has had a rough, rough stretch here recently, but she's doing well, she's doing better," Dr. Doug Cipkala, her oncologist, said.

Dr. Cipkala values his job to care for children at the hospital. After all, the work is personal to him.

"I am a childhood cancer survivor myself," Cipkala explained. "I had Hodgkin's lymphoma when I was in high school."

Violet's mom, Audra Rich, said this makes the patient-doctor bond more special for their family.

"Dr. Cipkala himself being a cancer survivor, that's been nice because he gets what these kids are going through," Rich said. "He understands exactly what the side effects are like and being in the hospital. He probably relates to her better than I do."

In many ways, Rich does understand what Violet is battling. She beat her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2014.

"I actually know what she's going through, but it's also hard because I know exactly what she's going through," Rich said.

Her previous cancer diagnosis helped her push for answers for Violet when she got sick. At that time, another doctor said her daughter had a virus.

"I knew something was wrong," Rich said. "I'm glad I'm the kind of mom that didn't listen to the doctor."

Rich said her perseverance to find answers for Violet led them to Peyton Manning Children's Hospital.

"We went to the hospital to get the blood work done, I didn't even get out of the parking lot before her pediatrician was calling me and saying something was wrong and get her to Peyton Manning, and there was a specialist waiting at the ER," Rich said.

Then, Violet got the news.

"My parents told me that I had cancer, which sucks to hear for anyone," she said.

But, Violet has stayed strong and gained lots of support to help her fight. She's a third grader at The Promise Road Elementary School in Noblesville where her principal, Kelly Treinen, started a foundation called the Michael Treinen Foundation. Rich said Treinen has helped the family financially through the foundation, and even gave Violet a special doll.

Rich and her husband Mike are from the City of Elwood. Elwood's mayor, Todd Jones, also battled Hodgkin's lymphoma. He and the rest of the city show Violet support through turning the city's fountain violet and taking group photos while holding a Victory for Violet sign.

Rich said Elwood's neighbors have organized several fundraisers and more are happening soon. You can find out more information by visiting the Victory for Violet Facebook page.

Violet is also a dedicated Colts fan. Violet got the chance to meet Peyton Manning at the hospital and he signed her ball cap for her.

Unfortunately, Violet spent her 9th birthday, on September 9th, at the children's hospital having surgery on her brain. FOX59 reached out to Larra Overton, former FOX59 sports reporter/anchor now Colts producer and talent, to see if she could help create a birthday surprise for Violet. Hours later, several Colts players recorded a special message for her and donated a goodie bag to show their support.

Violet is now in clinical remission. She will continue receiving cancer treatment for the next two-and-a-half years. She hopes to go home and cuddle her dog, Charli, by this weekend. Violet has brain surgery scheduled for Thursday morning.

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