Cancer does not discriminate against age, race, gender
or whether or not the world is facing a pandemic!
With your help, Cal’s Angels can continue to send care packages to the children, send them custom puzzles to do as a family, send meals when they need it most, and get them registered for their extracurricular activities when this passes.
Cal’s Angels has come together and created the Cal’s Angels COVID Response Fund to support our families and first responders the best that we can. Our mission of granting WISHES, raising AWARENESS, and funding RESEARCH to help kids fighting cancer will continue even during this time. Thank you for supporting the Cal’s Angels COVID Response Fund.
Kick off your summer by running with Cals Angels by participating in #NationalRunningDay on June 3! Sign-up by registering $19 to the Cal’s Angels Covid-19 fund, choose #NationalRunningDay in the dropdown!
Cal’s Angels COVID Response Fund – In the News
Starr Family – Gavin
Our family before COVID-19:
If someone got sick in the family we would do our best to keep Gavin away from them. We went to all our scheduled doctors appointments. Gavin would sometimes wear a mask depending if he was sick, had a low ANC count or if it was during the flu season. The hospital always felt like a second home to us. It felt safe and comfortable. We never felt scared he was at risk of picking up a life threatening virus while we were there. We went about our scheduled appointments casually and visited friends and nurses every chance we could.
Our family during COVID-19:
Gavin got a simple g-tube infection and the entire family was put on house lockdown. No one was to leave or come into our home while Gavin’s body was fighting off this infection and his immune system was compromised. All of his doctor appointments have been rescheduled by the hospital due to COVID-19. Walking into the ER for an emergency with Gavin’s g-tube I literally felt like I was walking into the lion’s den. I had no idea what to expect or how things would be at the hospital. We both wore masks from the time we left our car till we got back to it. I was scared to let him use the public bathroom in the ER while there and I was freaking out if he touched anything. I hated the feeling of not being comfortable in home away from home. I hated knowing that our beloved doctors and nurses are there everyday on the front lines fighting this. But, I can honestly say that I did feel Lurie’s had a good handle on things and have prevented a lot of spreading by rescheduling our kids appointments. That ER wasn’t packed like I’ve seen it during flu season. It was calm, it was quite almost which tells me that the only people who were there was the ones who really needed to be there. Everyone else was home doing like they have been told to do. I’m terrified if Gavin gets this his body won’t be able to fight it off as well due to his medical issues. And I personally know this is the fear of all cancer parents.
Collins Family – Ryan
Ryan has spent a lot of time being home because of treatment and now because of COVID-19. Getting outside is important so he can get fresh air and exercise. Having sat around because of lack of energy during treatment exercise is especially important now. That’s why the Wish Cal’s Angels granted Ryan was a trampoline. He wanted it because it’s fun and something to look forward to. He can just go out in the backyard and have fun while getting exercise at the same time.
Ryan currently is on a delay for his 8H9 treatment that he receives in NYC at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He was supposed to start his second cycle the week of February 3rd. His counts were low so he was delayed. Basically he was delayed until March 19th. His counts were then at an acceptable level. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 issues escalated, especially in NYC. So now Ryan is unable to receive is last treatment until it is safe to travel to NYC. So time on his trampoline is more frequent and we are so grateful for it.
There are no words to express the punch your heart receives when your child is diagnosed with cancer. There is a loss of words and a million and one thoughts going through your head as you look at that small warrior. Then it hits you, you realize your child is completely unaware of the battle he is about to fight, and a battle everyone at home was completely unprepared for. Now, think about beating this awful disease and then realizing 15 months later it is back. You feel that punch in the heart once again, but this time the fear is much greater. You know so much more about what your child must deal with; and all that knowledge makes things so much scarier. However, he is cool with it. I mean this has been his life, hospital visits, doctors, pokes, and bone marrow biopsies are the norm in his life. Nonetheless, he focuses on the better part of all of this. He realizes he will see his favorite nurses and child life specialist more often and will continue to build on the bond that they had the first time around. Oh, and let us not forget now he will not have to go to school every day. Did I mention he has these huge crafts and painting ideas to complete with his buddy, the child life specialist? He beats this battle, again. However, the storm is not over, 7 months later here we go again; the cancer is back. This time you have a fear a fear that is greater than the punches put together. He, on the other hand, is fearless. When you finally come to the realization that you have no choice but to make the best out of all this, for his sake, you are hit with the news of a pandemic. Your mind starts working again at a speed 1000 times faster than everyone else in the world. What does this mean to me? What does this mean to my family? How will this affect us all? How can I protect this little warrior from yet another potential enemy? Then you say to yourself, relax you are already doing all you can.
I sit back and think about all these people buying masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and gloves. Then you see all these suggestions about how to wash your hands. You get a call from a friend, and like everyone else, she begins to talk about the virus. She goes on and on telling you how she cannot find toilet paper, masks, and hand sanitizer. Meanwhile, in your head, you are still trying to understand this toilet paper craziness. Then she asks “How are you doing? OMG you must be so nervous and disinfecting everything.” That is when I really think about this, hhhmmm how am I doing? I realize I am better than most people. I mean, it surprises me that now we have tutorials on how to wash your hands. Does this mean not too many people knew how to wash their hands? My life has not been normal since late September 2014. Staying away from sick people, disinfecting, wearing masks, and washing our hands constantly has been the norm in my home. However, I will not say this shut down has not affected us. Cristian loves his nurses and misses painting with the former Loyola Child Life Specialist, but this time around things are different. Along with having to tolerate a tough chemotherapy and antibody treatment, grandma cannot visit or stay overnight like before. Not only that, his nurses and doctors are what he said, “more scared to get near him.” Now here I am explaining to Cristian that his doctor still cares about him but does not want to expose him to anything. Before this shut down you got to meet parents suffering the same struggles as you and you had the opportunity to be part of this community of parents with small soldiers fighting big battles. These communities made me realize I was not alone. Now, everyone looks at each other and tries as quickly as possible to get away from you. Cristian’s doctor asked me if I thought parents would get worried if he wore a mask, my response was simple. Why should they be worried? You have a family to take care of too and you also must take care of your patients. He said, nonchalantly, ok I just wanted your opinion. I felt part of this huge decision and, as always, he made me feel that our opinion mattered to him. Have things changed in the hospital? Yes, I mean now we are not allowed in the playroom, we can not use the fridge or the microwave in the family area. The fear of “catching” Covid-19 is felt as soon as you walk in. In regards to staff, some totally show you fear if you are less than 6 ft of distance (like they want to push you away) most of them though continue to treat you as family and try not to add additional stress to the stress you already have to deal with.
Olivia was diagnosed at 16 with a stage 4 Wilms’ tumor, a type of kidney cancer typically found in young children. Olivia, now 18, has always focused on translating her experiences into learning opportunities for others.
With a goal to educate, inspire, and raise awareness, Olivia started a YouTube channel. Her message spread to many and continues to every day. Her efforts didn’t stop here. Through her school and community, Olivia saw an opportunity to do some fundraising. With the guidance of Cal’s Angels, Olivia orchestrated a “Go Gold Game” and was able to raise over $7,000.
Cal’s Angels has had a significant impact on the Sergot family since the day of Olivia’s diagnosis. Immediately, Olivia was given a comfort kit and the smile that was already on her face shone even brighter. Cal’s gave Olivia the chance to see one of her favorite artists, Billie Ellish, for a night with friends to escape the rigor of her treatment. She was able to be a “normal” teenager this day and forget that she still had a long road ahead of her to get healthy. These moments are crucial when a child is fighting cancer. The ability to lift the weight off of their shoulders is priceless and that is what Cal’s Angels works so hard to do every day.
In January of 2020, Olivia was finally able to announce that she was cancer free. Ecstatic, she rang the coveted end of therapy bell and is now looking forward to a long life of health and happiness. She will be attending college in the Fall of 2020 with the plans to become a Pediatric Oncology nurse!
“Being a senior in high school during the Covid-19 pandemic is heartbreaking. We may not have our last day of school, our prom, or our graduation, but we have our health. Video chats and e-learning are our new normal. But even though it’s weird and unfortunate, we are all in this together.
However, imagine missing out on most of your junior year and first semester of senior year. Imagine this last semester being your chance to have a normal high school experience. Then, all of a sudden, it’s gone. You’re finally healthy and feeling good and you have to sit in your house all day long. This is my life. As a recently proclaimed cancer survivor and a senior in high school, Covid-19 was unexpected. But, as challenging as this situation is, I am optimistic. I am looking forward to having a somewhat normal summer and celebrating with friends and family as soon as it is safe to do so.
Even though I didn’t have a typical high school experience and I am graduating in the middle of a global pandemic, I know that I am only stronger because of it. The class of 2020 and my fellow cancer survivors are some determined, resilient people, and I am confident that better times are coming our way.” — Olivia