What should you say to someone whose loved one has died? Vicki Bunke has some simple advice that comes from heartbreaking experience — her 14-year-old daughter, Honored Kid Grace, died of bone cancer in March. Here’s what Vicki has to say …
Vicki’s daughter Grace grins and laughs in her mom’s arms. Grace was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when she was 11 years old and lost part of her leg to the disease. After her third relapse, she knew her disease was terminal but remained determined to experience everything life had to offer. Photo by Ashton Songer Photography
For 20 years, I have had the privilege of working as a school psychologist. I am honored to get up every morning and go to a job where I get to spend hour after hour interacting with young people. Sadly, this past spring, a young student who attended the high school where I work — and whom I loved dearly — died of osteosarcoma, a childhood bone cancer.
This student happened to be my 14-year-old daughter, Grace.
Joey Chamness has grown up from being St. Baldrick’s very first Ambassador to become a longtime shavee and the VEO of his college event — helping fundraise for childhood cancer research to the tune of thousands of dollars. Why does he do it? Because this survivor knows firsthand how important it is to find better, safer treatments and cures for kids with cancer.
(Left) Joey rests and watches movies during his treatment for osteosarcoma. (Right) Now a survivor, Joey speaks during a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event.
21-year-old Joey Chamness considers himself lucky.
What do researchers Dr. Alex Huang and Dr. Carl Allen have in common? Passion, curiosity, drive, brilliant ideas, a desire to help kids — the list goes on! And now there’s something else. They are both recipients of the first St. Baldrick’s Innovation Award. What do they want to do with this unique grant? Read on to find out.
Dr. Carl Allen (left) is an associate professor at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and one of the investigators involved in the North American Consortium for Histiocytosis (NACHO), which received a St. Baldrick’s Consortium Grant. St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Alex Huang (right) is a professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a 10-time shavee with St. Baldrick’s.
St. Baldrick’s researchers Dr. Alex Huang and Dr. Carl Allen work on different projects, in different labs about 1,300 miles away from each other.
Dr. Huang primarily studies how immunotherapy can help kids with cancer, while Dr. Allen studies Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis or LCH, which is caused by out-of-control immature white blood cells. The disorder can cause inflammatory tumors, damage organs and even cause brain degeneration in some patients.
The two researchers may work in different areas on different projects, but since the start of their careers in medicine, they’ve shared a goal — to help sick kids get better. And now they have something else in common.
Dr. Noah Federman first decided to become a doctor because he wanted to help people. Mission accomplished, Dr. Federman. Over his years as a physician, he’s helped countless children with cancer, including cancer survivors like 2013 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Emily. Read on for more about Dr. Federman, his St. Baldrick’s Scholar award and what he envisions for the future of childhood cancer research.
Dr. Noah Federman meets with a patient.
Dr. Noah Federman first met Emily back at the very beginning, soon after she discovered a persistent bump on her right leg — the first sign of a bone cancer called osteosarcoma.
The St. Baldrick’s Scholar has been there for Emily ever since, through the ups and downs of treatment, through her surgery and even now during survivorship, as she prepares to celebrate five years cancer free.
It’s a proud moment for Dr. Federman.
He became a doctor to make a difference in the lives of children like Emily — to help them beat cancer, get out of the hospital, and grow up healthy and happy.
Today is National Cancer Survivors Day and in celebration, we are bringing you the survivorship story of 2013 Ambassador Emily, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma as a 16-year-old. Now nearing five years cancer free, she’s a huge advocate for kids’ cancer research. She wants to see all kids with cancer leave the childhood cancer world behind — for good. Read on for more about Emily, her treatment and its effects, and what it’s like to be a survivor.
Emily in 2013, during her treatment for cancer (left) and Emily last month (right) in New York City, which she’s made her home after graduating from New York University.
Emily lives in two worlds.
In one, she just graduated from New York University, is cruising the Adriatic Sea over the summer, and snagged her dream job in television production.
The other world is different.
On National Sibling Day, meet Josh Aguilera, a brother and St. Baldrick’s shavee who made his sister’s dreams come true on one of the last nights of her life. Because what does a big brother do to make his sister happy? Get suited up in a tuxedo and ask her to prom, of course.
Janea, in the red dress, beams at the camera with her brother, Josh, on prom night.
Like many teenage girls, Honored Kid Janea Aguilera dreamt of her high school prom. What dress would she wear? Who would ask her to go? Did she have a shot at being crowned Prom Queen?
But when she was in eighth grade, Janea was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bone.
Today marks the end of an era for Joe Bartlett and Chuck Chamness as they complete their terms on our board of directors. Read 2012 Ambassador Sarah’s heartfelt letter thanking them for all the hard work they’ve dedicated to kids with cancer.
Joe Bartlett (left) and Chuck Chamness hold their goodbye gifts at their final St. Baldrick’s board meeting.
Dear Mr. Bartlett and Mr. Chamness,
I want to thank you for all you have done as members of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s board of directors.
When it came time to talk about surgery for bone cancer, 9-year-old Honored Kid Elise took charge. Read on to learn about Elise’s cancer journey, the decision she made, and how she’s moving forward with her life.
Wise beyond her years, 9-year-old Elise has been a full participant in her treatment decisions.
Nine-year-old Elise has some advice for any kid facing a big, tough decision.
“It’s your decision,” she said. “It’s your life.”
Elise knows all about making life-changing decisions. When it came time to choose the best surgery to rid her right leg of bone cancer, it was Elise who spoke up first.
2013 Ambassador Emily is living it up in the Big Apple as a student at New York University. Meanwhile, her mom is on the other side of the country in California. Despite the distance, Emily made sure her mom is feeling loved for Mother’s Day — read Emily’s touching letter below.
Emily and her mom have a close relationship.
First off, happy Mother’s Day! I love you so much, which I hope you already know. I hope you can understand how difficult it is for me to write this letter because you (and Dad and Max) mean more to me than everything in the world.
Cierra Walsh was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her right femur on March 19, 2014. She went through nine months of chemotherapy and four surgeries on her leg. Now, the 15-year-old has a strong voice for kids with cancer — read what she has to say about it.
Cierra, surrounded by her friends, poses with her newly shaved head.
People often say that the three most important words in the English language are “I love you.”
But my life experience suggests something different. The three most important words to me are “you have cancer.”
Everything in my life has been changed by those three simple words.
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