Inspirationalstories

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Vanessa StaufferVanessa is a bubbly girl who turns 10 this month.  Throughout her lifetime, she has spent way too much time in the hospital and in doctor’s offices.  At the age of 20 months, Vanessa was diagnosed with cancer in her brain and spine.

Her treatments have taken a toll on her tiny body, but she handles each challenge with grace and humor.  Her infectious laugh and adorable smile are memorable to all who meet her.

Breandan CourtneyBreandan is 12 years old. He was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia in August of 2012 just after his 9th birthday. He initially spent 21 days in the hospital. His treatments will last about 3 ½ years from his date of diagnosis.
 
Breandan is in the 7th grade and is on the swim team.  He is growing into an amazing young man. I could not be more proud of him. Cancer will never define who he is, but it has become a part of him; I have witnessed amazing amounts of compassion and kindness towards others. I believe that the cancer diagnosis has contributed to Breandan’s desire to help other children and families. He is not sure how he is going to accomplish his goals, but I have heard many great ideas and I cannot wait to see what comes of them. 

Breandan is an inspiration to me; he has kept a smile on his face and an optimistic point of view the entire time throughout treatment. He has taught me how to enjoy life and to cherish every moment that you have with the ones that you love.

Thank you Breandan!! Love, Mom.   

Reilly ShimkoReilly was diagnosed with high risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia(ALL) on January 3, 2015 at the age of 4. He lives at home with his dad (Joe) and mom (Natasha) and will become a big brother in November.  Reilly is a very loving and caring little boy who loves to play all sports. As long as he is outside he is happy. One of his favorite things to do outside is to ride his bike.  He can make it up to four miles. His other favorite thing to do is ride his four-wheeler. He would ride that thing until the gas runs out if we would let him. We picked the month of October because it’s his birthday month.  He will turn five on October 13. Having cancer has been really hard for Reilly.  He has had to leave all of his friends at daycare because his immune system is too low. He also has to spend a lot of time in the hospital. Right now, it is one week in one week out, which for a boy who loves being outside is so hard. We try to make the best of it and the nurses let him ride a little three wheel bike they have there. He enjoys going fast around the hallways and seeing how fast he can make his dad or me walk/run behind him with his IV pole. It’s so cute when we get ready to go in for another round of chemotherapy treatment - he asks if he needs a spinal tap or a bow and arrow (bone marrow). Another cute thing he says is his port(internal line in his chest) is not a port it’s his button. Reilly still has a very long road ahead of him, but he is the bravest kid I have ever met and he will beat this!

Griffin King“Adversity is like a strong wind.  It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.”

Griffin was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), B-cell Type in September of 2014 at 17 months of age.  He was very excited at the new arrival of his little brother Keegan (5 weeks old at the time).  In the midst of entertaining his new best buddy, Griffin fought to shake off a persistent respiratory infection.  A thorough work up was initiated, and subsequent ALL diagnosis was made after a noticeably pale Griffin was no longer able to bear weight on his left leg.  His world was forever changed that day.  

Griffin has now bravely progressed through varied stages of treatment and is presently in the ‘maintenance’ phase.  The chemotherapy and steroid regimens have taken their toll on his motor faculties and once limitless energy.  Yet through it all, Griffin remains a happy, engaging little boy.  He continues to amaze his family and friends with his infectious smile and courageous spirit.  His wonderful laugh has persisted and his fortitude continues to inspire.  Despite Griffin’s newfound hardship, he has encountered generosity and support from strangers and loved ones alike.  Though his journey has just begun, Griffin has encountered enough goodwill to fill a lifetime. 

June PickeringJune “Bug” was diagnosed with High Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on October 29, 2014 at just 3 years old.
  
June will put a smile on anyone’s face, she is so full of life and never lets cancer stop her from smiling and laughing.
  
June is one tough cookie and cancer picked the wrong Diva. June enjoys playing dress up and putting on Mommy’s makeup.  June absolutely loves jewelry and never leaves the house without it.  June’s favorite month is August, because it’s her birthday.  June lives at home with her big sis Alexis, Mom, and grandparents, who absolutely adore her.

Jeremiah Garcia (Jj)This is our son Jeremiah, but he goes by the name of JJ. He was diagnosed with Leukemia 9 days after his 6th birthday on July 27, 2014. It was a normal day, or so we thought. We had just come from football when I decided to take Jj to the emergency room as I had concerns about the bruises he was developing, his recent fatigue and red little dots, which now we know are petechiae. A normal Sunday turned into a nightmare! I died in that room over and over again. I asked, “How can this happen? He’s my world, I can’t live without him!” I turned to the nurse and asked, “What’s going to happen?  What can you do for my son?”  She said they couldn’t treat him there but they were transferring him to Lehigh Valley Hospital, where they would be able to assist Jj with his care. A couple hours later we arrived at Cedar Crest where they performed the same blood work to confirm. I could never forget all the screams from our baby. Both of his hands had IVs, which had to be taped onto a board to circulate correctly. I held my baby in my arms with tears falling down my face all night. I just kept praying but felt so weak, so helpless. But when our son looked at me and said,  “Mom, don’t worry, I’m going to be ok, I’m going to beat Leukemia” I told myself if our son who is 6 years old can have such a positive attitude & be so brave then I need to get it together. I looked at him and said, “Jj, you’re right & we’re going to do this together I promise you!”  When I think of words to describe our son I think of a fighter, a warrior, a believer in God, strong, motivated, lovable, kind, good hearted, an inspiration to us & definitely one of a kind!

Keegan WyshoskyPeter “Keegan” Wyshosky was 8 years old when he was diagnosed with his brain tumor in the center of the cerebellum in September of 2014.  Keegan went through surgery to have it removed and has been working on recovering ever since. When we found out the news about the brain tumor Keegan said, “Mom, am I going to die?”  I said, “No, Keegan, we are going to fight”.  Keegan is a true warrior. Life has become a daily challenge for him, but he never complains.  Keegan is the son of Shalmar Herlihy- Mantz and the late Peter Wyshosky. He has a 19 year old sister, Kassandra, and a doggie, Jupie. Keegan attends St. Joseph’s Regional Academy in Jim Thorpe, PA. 

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.