Mom celebrates first Mother’s Day with cancer-free daughter

Reporter: Ashley French
Published: Updated:

We have one of the best weekends ahead, a time to celebrate mothers everywhere, and as any mother knows, celebrating with your family matters most.

What makes this Mother’s Day personally special for Stephanie Leduff is that she gets to celebrate it with her daughter Libbi Leduff, who, a few years ago, was diagnosed with cancer and spent 150 days in the hospital fighting for her life.

“We’ve navigated through a lot over the years, and this is the first Mother’s Day that I’m really able to breathe knowing that my daughter Libby, who’s five years old, is going to be okay,” Stephanie said.

For the first three years of Libbi’s life, she wasn’t able to celebrate her mom for Mother’s Day due to a health scare that affected her early in her childhood.

Libbi was diagnosed with cancer when she was one year old. She endured the initial chemotherapy, but she relapsed right after she turned two. The journey for her Mother, Stephanie, would become complex and scary.

Libbi would spend her first two years in aggressive chemotherapy treatment at Golisano Children’s Hospital, where her chances at life were unsure.

“It was a really dark, scary time. Quite frankly, they did not know if she was going to survive. Libby actually went into sudden cardiac arrest four times, and again, it was a miracle that she survived that day, and in the months to follow, there was still a lot of uncertainty if she would pull through,” Stephanie said.

Through challenges, health scares and long days in chemotherapy, little Libbi pulled through.

“She is a fighter. She’s a resilient little girl, and I’m proud to say that today, she is off of treatment. She’s in full remission, and most importantly, she is happy, healthy and thriving,” Stephanie said.

Throughout Stephanie’s experience, she relied on strength and motherhood.

“The community of motherhood is so strong, and it’s so important. To be a mother that’s had to experience and navigate that adversity, something that I learned early on was really to lean on that village around me,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie also credits the mothers who helped her along this journey, as well as her own mom.

“When I think about all of the other moms that had an impact on my story, you know, I think of my own mother,” said Stephanie. “She pretty much moved to Florida to help take care of my other daughter while Libby was in treatment and also took care of me and took care of my husband.”

Little Libbi is also set to graduate from pre-k and move on to kindergarten at Primrose School in Estero.

When we spoke to little Libbi, she said she plans to make her mom’s favorite pancakes for Mother’s Day.

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