Our heroes are the children who fight pediatric cancer with bravery and grace. These kids are the real heroes, and their hope, love, and joy inspire us every day.
Ella is our first sponsored child. Her scrappy spirit has been key to her remarkable survival story as she’s faced unbeatable odds to fight through a parade of beatings from her tumors, treatments, and related complications. Each time she gets knocked down . . . she gets up again, eventually smiles, and pushes on to live another day and fight another fight.
Ella was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2015, after experiencing inexplicable leg and back pains. Doctors eventually discovered a grapefruit-sized octopus-shaped tumor in her abdomen, with tentacles invading several nearby systems including one penetrating into Ella’s spinal column and triggering her pains. She also had numerous tumors in her lungs, and liver, and started to ‘sugar coat’ around her brain. Stage IV metastatic rhabdoid sarcoma. Too many tumors and too tangled to surgically remove. And too far advanced and fast-growing to try to cure therapeutically. Ella was given just a few months to live.
But Ella wouldn’t go down without a fight. Her oncologists decided to at least try one round of radiation, specifically targeting the spinal tentacle in hopes of slowing its growth to reduce Ella’s pain and stave off paralysis ...and the radiation helped almost immediately. So then her doctors decided to try a single round of chemotherapy ...and it worked too.
Tumor growth was slowing, some even shrinking. So then additional chemo rounds were ordered to try to buy Ella just a little more time. Her medical team gave Ella “an inch, but she took a mile.” And today, over a year later, she’s still fighting back. Now with realistic hopes of remission and recovery. She’s survived additional radiation, dozens of chemotherapy infusions, major surgeries on her abdomen and brain, a bone marrow transplant (using her own peripheral blood stem cells), and a barrage of complications that several times landed her in the ICU.
Ella’s marathon fight has taken its toll on her family too. The exhaustive time and care demands later precipitated an unplanned job change for her father, which then triggered the need for her family to sell their home in Evergreen, CO. But with Ella’s brilliant example of tenacity and hope, the whole family is enduring this adventure closer together and stronger than ever. Like her mother, Ella is a gifted artist and the two of them spend a lot of time working on crafts together, with plans to keep doing so for many, many years to come.
Leon was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) in 2008 when he was only one year old. He went through chemotherapy and other oncology treatments for 6-8 months to which he responded very well.
However, in August of 2015, he relapsed and had to start treatment again. He began chemotherapy and continued for five months in Denver. This time, the chemo wasn’t quite enough and he needed more advanced therapy to get into remission so he went to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD for Car-T Cell Therapy.
After 2 months of that treatment, he and his family came back to Denver to start his bone marrow transplant. He went through four months of treatment with included chemo and total body radiation for his transplant.
Today, he’s still in follow-up care and doing great. He enjoys playing basketball, and video games and wants to start doing cross-country running.
When Cap for Kids first met Leon, we were struck by his strength and resilience. Not only had he battled cancer multiple times, but he did it while under some pretty extreme circumstances. His mother had passed away and his father was no longer in the picture. Thankfully, he had his wonderful grandmother to take care of him and his siblings.
But of course, raising several children, while caring for Leon during his treatments was more than any one person could handle. This is where Cap for Kids stepped in. We’ve been able to help Leon’s family by buying clothing, gas, and food, as well as paying their rent and utilities. We were even able to get them a minivan through the wonderful kindness of Mile High Car Helper!
When we originally met Leon, he wasn’t a huge fan of Captain America. He was more of a Wolverine guy. But after spending some time with Cap, and getting to hold his shield, Leon warmed up to the star-spangled man.
When Edwin was only two years old, his mother found a lump on his neck one morning that had not been there the night before. Through a short series of doctor’s visits, life changed for Edwin’s family as he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
Chemotherapy was started, but it was already proving to be a tough road. Holidays were spent in the hospital; week-long battles against fevers were fought; nausea reared its ugly head and weight loss took hold.
A bone marrow transplant was his next chance to get ahead of this ugly monster taking over his life, keeping him inside, refusing to let him be the little boy he wanted to be. Again, long hospital stays and severe fevers became Edwin’s world, his family by his side as they all fought his disease with him.
Then, after five miserable days of watching him suffer, his mother saw it: his beautiful smile. He was starting to feel better again! They were able to go home for three weeks before his next bone marrow transplant… which hit him even harder.
This time he was in the hospital for more than a month, not eating regularly and in excruciating amounts of pain… the nature of neuroblastoma. As is common while fighting off cancer, Edwin had other illnesses hit him hard while in the hospital. All he wanted was to be home with his dad and his big brother.
After bone marrow transplants came immunotherapy, which wasn’t any easier on little Edwin. He was sick for weeks after each treatment, painful and not able to keep anything down even when he felt up to eating.
Edwin is a hero and a fighter and he’s showing us all the meaning of strength. He pushes through each treatment, each tough day with an attitude that uplifts everyone around him.
As you can see from the photos, Edwin is a huge Batman fan. Knowing this, Cap for Kids arranged for Edwin to meet his favorite superhero. Edwin was so excited to meet his hero and is now very happy to call Batman his friend.
As we commonly hear at Cap for Kids, the weeks of hospital stays, combined with the travel between home and hospital took a toll on Edwin’s family. Not only emotionally but financially as well. To reduce the financial strain, Cap for Kids has been able to help out with mortgage and utility payments.
Please help us help families like Edwin’s.
...and so many more
After starting out with these three superheroes, we've since helped many more families and we're helping more all the time...thanks to you! Here are the names of some of our recent cancer-fighting superheroes who we've been able to help because of people like you:
We'll keep adding and supporting more families but only with your continued partnership.