Mattel takes notice of Cancer Barbie


by CNN

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 26 at 6:17 PM

(CNN) - It wasn't love at first sight for Grace Bumstead, 4, and Ella, a chemotherapy Barbie who's bald and wears wigs.

"When they first met, she's like, 'OK, I get what's going on.' But it gave us the chance to say, 'Here's a beautiful, smiling doll. It doesn't have hair,'" her mother said.

Grace has a rare form of leukemia. The rate among children is roughly 1 in a million.

She will endure high doses of chemotherapy over the next year and a half.

"She's been amazingly brave. And we're very, very proud of her. It's not where we expected to be in life right now,” Grace’s mother said.

One of the hardest adjustments has been losing Grace's blonde curls, but that's where Ella came in.

"We bring her along everywhere to say, this is what's happening. This is what's happened to Ella. This is what's gonna happen to you. It brought it to her level,” her mother said.

Now Ella is part of what the family calls Grace's "inner circle of Barbies," alongside Ariel and Rapunzel.

But sadly not every cancer patient is able to adopt an Ella doll.

When Children's Hospital Los Angeles told Grace's mom they only had six dolls to hand out, she sprung into action, creating a petition to ask Mattel to make more.

In just three months, that petition had more than 100,000 supporters.

"Every 10 minutes, we got 1,000 signatures."

Mattel took notice, contacting Grace's mom and agreeing to make more Ella dolls and to distribute to children's hospitals throughout the country.

"If the pain that we're going through right now can help someone else, it makes it feel like it's worth it."

Grace's oncologist said she has a 75 percent chance of being cured.

"But the big issue is psychosocial. How will she view herself? How will she view the world when she grows up? Will she be afraid of the whole world because she thinks that leukemia will come back at any minute and end her life?"

Grace's family believes ella will help remind the young girl of the struggle she overcame and hopefully will never revisit.

Mattel told the Bumstead family that the company plans to distribute the Ella dolls in August. Their goal is to make new ones every year.

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