‘It is now my mission’: Hanover family looks to create non-profit honoring late 10 year old

Hanover County

HANOVER COUNTY, Va (WRIC) – After a four-year battle with a rare form of brain cancer, Hanover County 10-year-old Sawyer Perkins died New Years Eve in her mother’s arms.

8News has been with Sawyer and her family over the years when she threw the first pitch at a 2016 Flying Squirrels game, and when firefighters built a playhouse just for her.

One of a kind — that’s the words every family member 8News spoke to Saturday used to describe Sawyer Perkins.

Now, her family is using her story to help others who may be battling the same cancer.

In her mom’s eyes, Sawyer Perkins was a sassy, feisty warrior.

“You would never know that that little girl had cancer,” said Jamie Perkins.

And, everyone else saw her the same, a warrior not letting her battle with stage three anaplastic ependynoma, a rare brain cancer, get her down.

“It’s been four and a half years of just fighting. I just kept looking for more and more things to help her while still giving her a good quality of life,” said Sawyer’s mom, Jamie Perkins.

New Years Eve, four and a half years later, Jamie Perkins tells 8News Sawyer died the most peaceful, intimate and beautiful death, surrounded by the ones who loved her the most.

 “Her happy. Her not sick anymore,” one of Sawyer’s younger cousins said sweetly.

Her grandfather, Bob Calvaneso, says Sawyer was always the life of the party, even when she was just a toddler.

“It was bedtime and we went upstairs and Mary and I were talking, my wife and I were talking. And Sawyer peeks up out of that thing and goes, stop talking! So, we thought it was so funny that she said that. We start laughing,” Calvaneso smiled. “She goes, stop laughing!”

For her aunt, Jessica Calvaneso, it was Sawyer’s ability to relate to others that made her smile, despite the six brain surgeries and countless cancer treatments she went through.

“I remember her just like looking up at me and she goes, ‘sigh’. ‘This is so hard.’ I’m like, what’s so hard? She goes, ‘I just, I want to watch my movie, but I also want to eat my ice cream, and I can’t do both at the same time,'” Jessica Calvaneso laughed.

Now, her mom says she wants to help other families, by donating her daughter’s brain to St. Jude for research.

“If I can save one family from this awful disease. There’s not enough research. It is now my mission. It’s been my mission since we found out she had cancer,” Sawyer’s mom said.

The Perkins family also plans to start a non-profit in the near future to help those battling the rare brain cancer and their families.

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