MILWAUKEE — Like so many families, the Meihsners fill their Christmas tree with ornaments that represent memories.
This Christmas that is truer than ever.
Their tree is decorated with so many memories of Abby Meihsner, who died in July at just 18 years old.
Her mother Angela remembers Abby as a young woman with such big plans.
"She had a plan and you didn't change her mind. It was Abby's plan. She was driven, was gonna change the world and just live life," Angela said.
Part of Abby's plan was becoming a chef.
That is very apparent on this year's tree, decorated with colanders, mixing cups and a gingerbread man in a chef's hat.
"From little on, Abby loved to bake. But then that turned into cooking. And Abby had a big heart. Cooking made people happy and that's where her passion laid," Angela said.
This time last year, Abby was a senior at Sussex Hamilton High School just six weeks into treatment for AML -- acute myelogenous leukemia.
A diagnosis that overnight made Children's Wisconsin her home.
"We were devastated," Angela said. "Our ignorance of cancer, we thought we got this. We'll come back every week to get treatments, she'll keep going to school, live a normal life. But that definitely was not the plan."
For all but two weeks of the next nine months, Abby and her family lived at the hospital.
A stay made more comfortable thanks to the MACC Fund.
"They try to make it as normal as possible. They have teen life, music therapy, art therapy. The nurses are amazing," she said. "They became our friends."
Abby fought hard against her illness and had it on the ropes, but complications from a bone marrow transplant were too much for her to overcome.
She died just a month after graduation.
"I guess we were just so hopeful," Angela said. "The last round of chemo going into the transplant and all the side effects of the transplant just took a toll on her."
Also on the tree this year -- a couple of MACC star ornaments.
One of them represents this year and their fight against childhood cancer.
The other is from 2003.
Abby was two years old and cancer was the farthest thing from their minds.
As you celebrate the holiday this year the Meihsners ask you to remember Abby and the MACC Fund.
That ornament you buy today will help send love to the next family facing a brave battle against childhood cancer.