Inspirationalstories

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Anthony HettlerAnthony was first diagnosed with ALL leukemia on May 9, 2014 at just four and a half years old. On March 16, 2014 he was pushed into a toy box by his cousin.  We were very angry that night when Anthony had difficulty walking and had a huge lump in his groin.  The hospital told us it was a hematoma.  After 2 hospital trips Anthony was feeling better! On April 20, (Easter morning) Anthony began to complain of leg pain again and the lump had changed from a circle to an oval.  After an ultrasound was done at the hospital, we were scheduled to see his pediatrician on May 6, 2014. Anthony was then pale in color, did not want to eat for about a week, slept basically all day long and started running a fever. The doctor ordered us to take him for blood work and a few days later we were told that we had to take him to Lehigh Valley Muhlenberg Hospital to see Dr. Monteleone for further blood work because his results came back abnormal and it could possibly be Leukemia.  Those are hard words to hear while at work!  On May 9, 2014 we headed down to the clinic, not knowing what we were going to hear.  Our hearts and minds were heavy and we just kept positive for our little guy, until the doctor came back into the room to give us the news we did not want to hear -  “Your child has leukemia, a blood cancer”.   We were heart broken and just wanted to wake up from the nightmare but unfortunately we couldn’t and we took one day at a time.  That day Anthony had a bone marrow check to confirm, a spinal tap done and his first round of chemo started.  Things got a little easier because we have a strong little warrior fighting!  On June 6, 2014 we got amazing news that Anthony was in remission! We are now thankful for his cousin pushing him because now Anthony is at low risk due to us catching it early. 

Anthony is a kind, loving and strong little boy! He loves sports, monster jam and wrestling with his daddy.  He also has a softer side when playing with his two sisters,  Arihanna who is 4 and Aniyah who is 2, and baby brother who is 3 months old! He is an overall amazing little guy fighting a big battle and for that he truly is our HERO!! 

Rachael BehmRachael is an energetic 14 year old who loves to be around her friends and help out wherever she is needed.  She was diagnosed with Large B Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in July 2014.  After 6 months of aggressive chemo she got a clean bill of health in January 2015.  All through her treatment she kept a very positive attitude.  She always had a good outlook on life and still does.  She never lost hope or faith in God.  There were times she was scared, but she always kept positive.  There is not a day that goes by where I haven’t seen her inspire the people around her.  Never Give Up Hope!  

Pediatric Hematology Oncology at Lehigh Valley Hospital MuhlenbergWe are the crew of the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology outpatient clinic at Lehigh Valley Hospital Muhlenberg. Some of us have been around for quite a while and other faces are relatively new. Our mission is unchanged however - a commitment to provide the best care to all of our patients and families. We are so grateful to Doug, Linda and everyone involved with Angel 34 for their incredible and unwavering support, compassion and understanding of the needs and struggles of families who courageously battle every day. So much of what we are able to do and provide to our clinic families every day is a direct result of the quiet and unassuming support  and commitment of Angel 34. Nicole’s wish to make a difference in the lives of others has certainly come true through her foundation, and her beautiful legacy lives on in the work of Angel 34. To Angel 34, our children and families - you inspire us, teach us and touch us every single day.

Ja’Khai BotzJa’Khai was diagnosed with Ependymoma on May 16, 2015. What we believed were seasonal allergies turned out to be much worse. Ja’Khai has been through so much since this date, yet through it all he keeps us all going. Ja’Khai has been the absolute strongest. He did have the entire tumor removed and then had to go through radiation and learn to walk again. The main problem for him is balance. He now has left side ataxia and goes to therapy throughout the week. I must say as I was taking him to radiation everyday throughout the summer I was extremely bummed each day. I just felt so horrible for him and his spirits were so high. He had an excellent team and when I would ask him why he thinks we go everyday he always said, “to change the green cap on my picc line”.  He is the one who kept the family going and helped us all make it through this tough experience. 

Panayiotis LaskaridisI am Panayiotis Laskaridis and I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on February 21, 2014. From the second I heard the words, “You have cancer,” I knew it was time to get to business. There wasn’t and never will be time to ask why this happened to me and never will there be time for feeling sorry for myself. I guess I just wasn’t wired to feel and think that way. From Hour 1, all I was dedicated to was getting better for my mother’s sake. I realized that my health wasn’t just about me. My recovery was about her. I am forever thankful to have a woman like that in my life.

I put myself below my mother on the priority list because she had been doing the same for me my whole life. Many people always admired my demeanor and how I charged through cancer without a flinch, but to me, it all seemed so obvious. I stood tall in the face of cancer for my mother. I never took a break or slowed down for my diagnosis. When I look back at my experience, I will take all the lessons I learned and use them to help me for the rest of my life. My experiences have taken me to the end of the earth and back but I didn’t come out empty handed. I have become wiser and stronger as a person and I use those traits to live my life every day. Maybe one day I’ll be able to teach my mother something.  

Thank you for everything you’ve done Mom, I love you. 

Christina WhiteheadChristina was born in Liberia on December 25, 1998. She was adopted by our family and came to the United States on April 28, 2001. Christina lives with her mother and is surrounded by big brothers. Christina is extremely social and fun loving. She is in the 10th grade at Kutzown Area High School. She is in the chorus, on the yearbook committee and on the high school dance team. This summer she had the great experience of participating in the Teen Leadership Program and Dragonfly Forest.

Ariana rosaAriana was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in September 2013. In October 2014 she celebrated her 17th birthday and one year in remission. Ariana is the eldest of 5 with 3 sisters and a baby brother. She is a junior at Dieruff HS where she is also the co-captain of the dance team. In addition to dancing, Ariana also enjoys writing poems and songs.

Bobby DiGiacomoBobby DiGiacomo is an energetic, 6 year old boy whose world changed dramatically when he was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia on March 12, 2014. He will receive treatment until June of 2017. Through the arduous treatment process he attends school regularly, and has remained positive and strong. Bobby has always loved superheroes and now he has truly become one!

Bradley HeaterOur lives were changed forever on Jan. 29th 2014 when our son Bradley Heater was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) at 2 years old. He was diagnosed as a high risk patient and then jumped to the very high risk treatment because he didn't meet remission when they expected him to. But here we are now 10 months later and he amazes us every single day with his strength, bravery and courage. He is in remission since June 2014 and we put our faith in God to keep this monster away forever. He loves trucks, cars, planes and trains, just like any other boy does, but what he loves the most is to play with his favorite person in the whole world, his sister Emma. She is only 7 years old and was and is very affected by this situation, be we try not to let this disease take these beautiful years away form him and from her. Mommy and Daddy are always by his side together for every finger poke, every chemo therapy, spinal taps, and biopsies. We are very fortunate to have so many people pulling together for us and we are so thankful because they give us the gift of us being able to be with our son for everything. We are looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel on May 28, 2017. That will be Bradley's last chemotherapy of his almost three and a half years of treatment. Thank you for your support.

Derek Graffis - "Camp Flip Flop"Derek Graffis of Bethlehem, PA was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2008, and passed away in December 2010 at the age of 21. Derek loved the beaches of New Jersey, and Angel 34 supports his memory by providing a camp in Derek’s Name - “Derek’s Camp Flip Flop.” The camp for children battling cancer and their families is provided for free and includes housing and access to the many amazing attractions of the Jersey Shore. Derek's dream was to help bring NORMALCY and HOPE to Children and Their Families. Learn more about Camp Flip Flop.

Sophia KriegerSophis was diagnosed with cancer in December 2014. After a few days with a fever and a series of bloody noses that go progressively worse, we rushed Sophia to Lehigh Valley Hospital with a high fever, bruising, and petechiae. Testing revealed she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and the doctors explained the treatment protocol and her prognosis based on her age and condition.

Complications are always a possibility while taking chemotherapy drugs that suppress the immune system. A minor infection that a healthy person can fight off can become a major life threatening infection in a patient that is neutropenic, or unable to fight infection.

Sophia's treatment was progressing without incident until 7 months into treatment whens he developed a complication from a buildup of ammonia in her body from one of the chemo drugs. This scary episode was evidence of the dangers of the chemo drugs themselves that are administered as a necessary part of the current treatment protocols.

A month later, she again had complications when one of the chemo drugs started to cause liver failure. This complication resulted in a transfer to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) where an experimental drug in clinical trials was available. The drug called Defibrotide reversed the damaging side effects of the chemo drug that caused the liver damage.

Fortunately, she was able to recover from the episode and enter the maintenance phase of treatment which will last for another year and a half. Our experience reaffirms the need for continued research on new methods of cancer treatment which will minimize the complications and damaging side effects of chemotherapy.

Jader RestrepoOn the 26th of November in 1996, my mother Adrienne Restrepom gave birth to me. She is a fabulous and beautiful queen of a mother. My father, Jader Restrepo, is a great advisor to his son. I was further blessed with a brother in the year of 1999. Life was and is great! When I was 16 I started to get headaches that would turn into migraines. It started in late October and continued to get worse until December when my doctors diagnosed me with a tumor in my head, after receiving an MRI. I went into surgery, performed by Neurosurgeon Dr. Li. He couldn't remove all of the tumor for the fear of damaging some important glands in the brain. I will need another surgery later on to remove the remaining tumor. I know in my heart that I am healed in my Lord, Jesus Christ's name. Keep my family in your prayer. God bless to you all.