CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — This story is the literal meaning of an emotional roller coaster for a local family. Parents from Chesapeake are dealing with heartbreak and joy all within the span of a week.
10 On Your Side met the with Laura and Joshua Vanderslice at their Chesapeake home. They were forced to move out of their home in Suffolk and in with Laura’s family after their oldest son Louis, 3, was diagnosed with leukemia. The young couple opened up and shared their story after their son Louis passed and they welcome a new bundle of joy exactly one week later.
On March 7, little Louie Vanderslice’s life ended at 3:00 a.m. at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD). Exactly one week later, his brother Logan’s life began, also around 3:00 in the morning.
“Lou will never be replaced, but I have a feeling that Logan will be a clone of Louie,” said Joshua.
Not only that, but their second-born child, Lennon, woke up that same night in a screaming fit while staying with his grandparents — that was also at 3:00 a.m.
Laura says Louie made an impact and clearly shared a bond with his two brothers.
“He was a firecracker. He was a pistol,” said Laura. “He was always smiling. He had an incredible personality… He didn’t know anything but pain.”
Louie was diagnosed with leukemia after his second birthday. His mother says she found bruises on his body that did not seem like normal toddler bruises. Louie’s fight at CHKD lasted for almost two years and one day Louie’s doctor told the Vanderslice parents that their son had relapsed.
“That’s when his doctor was like, ‘You should think about going to Disney, because there’s not going to be much time,'” Vanderslice said.
The family tried out a medical trial in Pennsylvania, but it did not work. Off to Disney they went.
“He was happy. That’s what he wanted. He wanted to go see Mickey,” said Joshua.
Mickey and Goofy: His two favorites. A three-year-old who fought for life and touched the heart of Hampton Roads with his strength — something he’s passed onto the man who never left his side.
“He gives me the strength,” said Joshua. “Our faith gets us through.”
The family says they constantly see signs that Louie is walking through life with them, even if he’s not physically there. The family has had purple iris flowers in their backyard for 15 years and the week after Louie died, they grew in orange. The color orange is significant, because it’s the color for leukemia.
“Louie is much happier in heaven, and I don’t know if he knows that, because he was sick his whole life,” said Laura. “We are hoping that we can learn from him and also get more funding for pediatric cancer. It’s only four percent.”
While this newborn bundle of joy never met Louie, he symbolizes the cycle of life — one life taken is one life given. In this case, they just happen to be brothers.