Fredericksburg Parent

September 2015

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www.FredParent.NET • 13 S eptember is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and many families in Fredericksburg and vicinity are fighting this battle with their own children right now. Here, we profile four such families to share their chal- lenges and their successes. The Athlete Lydia Dolvin was looking forward to sophomore year in September of 2013. She was in her second year of Commonwealth Governor's School, and she was a member of the cross coun- try team. She started passing out dur- ing practices, which prompted a trip to a cardiologist. An EKG and CT scan revealed a large mass in her chest; biopsies and bloodwork confirmed Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Lydia immediately started intensive treatments, fol- lowed by radiation in January 2014. She missed school. Her hair fell out and she felt listless all the time. She says, "Part of me didn't want to see my friends because I was bald and sick. I just wanted to curl up into a ball until I could go out and have fun again." Through it all, her family was her strength, and her teachers and classmates supported her every effort to stay connected. In February 2014, she was declared free of cancer. This past December, Lydia's cancer reoccurred. She went back to the hospital for a different chemo proto- col, and this time the doctors wanted to try something trickier – an otologist stem cell transplant, wherein Lydia donated her own stem cells back to her body. The procedure left her vulnerable for a month while her immune system grew back, but it was successful. Doctors declared no evidence of disease. Today, Lydia continues returning weekly to the clinic for monitoring of her numerous medications. Though it's been a long, rough recovery, Lydia is grateful, say- ing, "Technically, I'm still in treatment. Every month I get an infusion of a chemotherapy drug that's pretty wonderful. It doesn't cause hair loss or nausea or even tiredness, so I get it go about my business. I'll do that every month for a year and be done." Lydia will be a senior this fall. Another organization with wide reach in Fredericksburg is the GRACE OUGHTON FOUNDATION. After Grace's death in 2007, the Oughtons used the funds col- lected by Alec Oughton's colleagues to shift the foundation's focus toward the service of others. Today, they sponsor Sissy's Dance, Race for Grace, Brock's Bartender's Ball, and other local fam- ily-oriented fundraising events around Fredericksburg. Additionally, they are the beneficiary of a local street art event, Via Colori. Grace Oughton Foundation takes great pride in its most recent offering — a mobile lab, which holds bone mar- row donor drives and travels to children in need to provide CBC services locally, reducing travel for families. Engaged and Ready Not all organizations in our area have been in service for as long as Fairy Godmother and Grace Oughton Foundation. Two active, but lesser known organizations in Fredericksburg are the OWEN LEA FOUNDATION, which provides direct support to families of children diag- nosed with Neuroblastoma, and STRONG FOR DOM, which raises funds for specific clinical trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Margaret Beltran of Strong for Dom says, "Childhood cancer is hard on everyone in the family. In general, people don't know a lot about childhood cancers, and they certainly don't realize that such a small percent of funding goes toward its research." In addition to rais- ing money for clinical trials, Strong for Dom started the Super Fun Day program because, as Beltran explains, "We real- ized kids can be treated for cancer with medicine, but there's a whole other end of it that medicine can't treat. We try to provide them with a day of fun with their families." This year they were able to pro- vide two families with season passes to an amusement park. The Owen Lea Foundation has made its mission that of alleviating daily stresses from families of children diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. Director Karen Lea elabo- rates their mission, "We focus on what the families need to make the treatments happen. Most of these families spend thousands of dollars on gas alone to get to treatment centers. This is especially true of Neuroblastoma, which requires treatments in other cities." Lea empha- sizes that every penny sent to help needy families is spent toward that end: "It's 100 percent volunteer run." continued on pg 15 BY A.E. BAYNE We Get By with a Little Help from Our Friends Four families face child- hood cancers with faith, determination and a penchant for positivity continued on pg 16

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