The Max Cure Foundation Blog

Max Cure Foundation Asks Washington to #StepUp

The pediatric cancer community through the Alliance for Childhood Cancer on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, went to Capitol Hill to meet with Senators and Congressmen from all 50 States. The Max Cure Foundation joined forces with over 60 other CAC2 organizations (The Coalition Against Childhood Cancer – A Collaborative Group) and other advocates from the childhood cancer community to both virtually and physically storm Washington, D.C. (more…)

Max Cure Friend Brightens Smiles on Christmas

Richard Plotkin, Vice Chairman of The Max Cure Foundation (MCF) visited one of the Roar Beyond Barriers, NYC, families during the holidays at their new home on Staten Island. The Christmas tree was decorated with festive and religious ornaments, signaling the joy and serenity of this holiday season and the hope along with the anticipated prosperity for the year ahead. Grace, age 9, had made the paper snowflake hanging from the ceiling over the tree. Her proud parents were all smiles as MCF brought gifts donated by a friend (who has requested to remain anonymous) of Max Cure Foundation for Grace and Nikki, her 8 year-old sister. (more…)

Max Cure Foundation Comes to the Hamptons Marathon

The Max Cure Foundation is proud to announce that we will be teaming up with the Hamptons Marathon this year and the Bridgehampton Half Marathon in 2015. The Hamptons Marathon gives 100% of their proceeds to different charities each year, and Max Cure is thrilled to have been selected as one of them for this year’s race.

Considering that David Plotkin, Max Cure founder, spent his summers growing up in the Hamptons, and also that Max spent many days recuperating from treatment in Amagansett, we are especially excited to return to our founder’s roots, the site of where it all started for our foundation. We know that we will have an enormous amount of support from our followers in that area, in addition to the support of the Hamptons Marathon, which is very pleased to have us at their events.

The Hamptons Marathon has invited Max Cure and to collect sneakers for our Dunk Your Kicks initiative on their packet pickup days and on the race days. The Dunk Your Kicks program has been crucial to our efforts over the years, and we are very grateful for the opportunity to further expand those efforts at the races in September of this year and May of next.

Through the Dunk Your Kicks program, the Max Cure Foundation will collect used sneakers from participants at the race. For each pair of sneakers donated, The Max Cure Foundation will receive up to $1.00 from an international shoe recycler called Rethink Nation. The sneakers will then be sold by Rethink Nation at an affordable price in developing nations, saving the shoes from landfills and putting them to good use. The money Max Cure receives through Dunk Your Kicks goes towards funding research for innovative medical techniques to fight pediatric cancer, and also to low-income families of children with pediatric cancer, whom we help through our Roar Beyond the Barriers campaign.

The Hamptons Marathon will take place on September 27, 2014 in East Hampton, New York. There will also be a half marathon at the event, with a 5K. You can register for both the 5K and the Hamptons Marathon at their website, where you can also find directions to the race. Packet pickup dates for the Hamptons Marathon will take place on September 22 and 23 on 140 W 72nd Street in NYC, and on September 26 and 27 at the Spring School in East Hampton. There will also be a 5K on race day, as well as a half marathon in Bridgehampton, New York in May 2015.

We look forward to seeing Max Cure supporters at the Hamptons Marathon and Bridgehampton Half Marathon, where we hope to make yet another stride in our battle against pediatric cancer.

Want to join Team Max Cure and run? We have a few bibs available but fundraising must be completed by August 15, 2014.  Email us here for more information.

run hamptons marathon

Max Cure Vice-Chair Attends RBB Graduation

Author: Richard Plotkin, MCF Vice-Chairman

Max and Qualeek (3)I recently had the pleasure of attending the 5th grade graduations of my grandson, Max Plotkin, and of Qualeek McNeil. These 11 year old boys have much in common in addition to the fact they are looking forward in September to entering into middle school, including the fact they were both afflicted by childhood cancers at young ages, Max on the eve of his 4th birthday and Qualeek when he was 6 years old. Max was diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoma and Qualeek with brain cancer. Qualeek, due to the chemotherapy treatment he received, is partially deaf, one of the insidious side effects experienced by pediatric cancer survivors. Max is considered a childhood cancer survivor whereas Qualeek still goes for periodic treatments but thankfully every indication is he, too, will be a survivor of pediatric cancer.

Richard and Max 5th grade graduationMax graduated from the Smith School in Tenafly, New Jersey, an upscale suburban community, just minutes from Manhattan. Qualeek graduated from P.S. 309 in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, also just minutes from Manhattan. Despite their respective proximities to Manhattan, the communities in which these two boys reside are as different as two communities could be. However, what was not different was the pride felt by the parents and relatives of those graduating from the 5th grade and the joy that filled the two school auditoriums, one in Tenafly and one in Bedford Stuyvesant. A significant moment for me at Qualeek’s graduation, in addition to Qualeek winning a medal placed around his neck for his participation in music activities, came from one of the speakers who looked directly at the children, all of whom appeared to be African American or Hispanic, telling them that if they work hard and continue in school, there is no reason why they could not become doctors or lawyers or indeed, as stated by the speaker, “as recent events have proven, even President of the United States.” Wow, that was a powerful message and reinforced how significant it is that this country elected, and then re-elected, an African American as President. The program distributed at Qualeek’s graduation prominently displays the following words on the top of the cover page, “We Believe, We Will Achieve.”

Qualeek was among the first three children whose families were included in the Roar Beyond Barriers program launched in New York City in November, 2011. He and his family attended our Family Day Carnivals in East Hampton during the summers of 2012 and 2013, having stayed at my home in Amagansett during their 2012 visit. Qualeek and his mother, Felicia, attended the Gala on the eve of the September, 2012 Golf Outing with Trent Tucker’s All4Kids Foundation and met celebrity guests such as Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks, Greg Anthony and Trent Tucker, all having played for the Knicks, and Mike Woodson (then coach of the Knicks) and Howard Cross former NFL All-Pro player for the Giants – and many other celebrity athletes and entertainers. A special friendship developed between Max and Qualeek at these events, a friendship that came about because it is evident that childhood cancers do not discriminate based on race, creed, or socio economic circumstances.

Richard and Qualeek graduationI was honored when, several months ago, Felicia told me that Qualeek asked if I could attend his graduation (I told her I would not miss it for the world) and was particularly moved when I saw the smile on his face as he saw me waiting outside P.S. 309 as he and Felicia approached the school for Qualeek’s special day. I quickly understood how significant the Roar Beyond Barriers program is not only in that it financially assists low income families battling cancer in their children, but it also gives the message to the children afflicted with cancer that others care about them. That I was selected by Qualeek to be one of his four guests, made me realize that The Max Cure Foundation is indeed making a difference in the lives of children with cancer and their families.

John D. Herz Art

John D. Herz not only inspires the world through his pencil drawings, but now will be supporting The Max Cure Foundation (MCF) through his incredible gift. John always enjoyed drawing, but did not consider himself an artist. John never took lessons and drew occasionally as the mood hit him. Then on John’s 58th birthday, Nancy, his significant other and muse, as a surprise took John to an art store and had him pick out supplies, which became his birthday present. This gift sparked a passion for drawing and the search for the perfect subject. At the time, he had not picked up a pencil in over 8 years. John saw things differently, and his talent was taken to a whole new level. John had been an entrepreneur and had been in business over much of his life. During the last eight years John put all his energy into his artwork.

John had been looking for a charity to partner with – allowing John to donate a significant portion of the receipts from the sale of his artwork to that charity. John has a personal experience with pediatric cancer as a grandson of his dear cousin was recently diagnosed. After being introduce to Max Cure, and forming a relationship with Richard Plotkin, MCF Vice-Chair, and Max’s Grandfather, that given his family’s experience over the last year with Luke’s cancer, it was fate that brought him to MCF saying, “There is no greater cause that I could think to support than fighting childhood cancer and after learning about MCF, there is no better charity to align myself with.”

The relationship between John and MCF was formed, with both promising to make a difference in the world of pediatric cancers – fighting together a parent’s worst nightmare, a child with cancer. Payments are made to Max Cure Foundation, a 501 ( c ) ( 3 ) non-profit corporation, with it retaining 30% of the proceeds from each Giclee and 50% of the proceeds from each poster sold to enable it to advance its mission for pediatric cancer.

The Max Cure Foundation currently offers three of John’s amazing works available for immediate purchase through website. If you prefer a different piece of John’s artwork not currently available for purchase online, you may contact us here for availability.
The Domino Effect Image
While visiting Mystic, Connecticut I came across a wonderful store named “Radio Waves.” The store sells a unique assortment of gifts and nostalgia. I loved the window display and took many photographs. When I looked at the images I saw a great still life drawing waiting to be rendered. The portion that I chose to draw has so many different textures, from the assorted wood grains, to a trumpet and a lampshade made of shells. I always like to challenge myself with my art and this challenge proved to be really fun.

Born Free Image
Not long ago I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful photographer, Stephen Lang. When he shared his images with me I was awed by many of them. These four beautiful stallions frolicking  really caught my eye so I made arrangements with the photographer to draw them.  When I consider a subject to draw it always has to bring out an emotion in me. The raw power of these horses and their majestic playground just grabbed me.
The Domino Effect Image
As an artist, I see this drawing as a portrait of men playing dominoes. Even though you can’t see their faces their hands tell their story. The wrinkles and age spots on two of the men’s hands and the smoother skin on the other men give a sign of their age. Hands can be as telling as a face. Skin texture is like a landscape, within the lines and wrinkles there are shadows and highlights.

 

 

Every month John will feature additional artwork available for a limited time to Max Cure supporters only. Stay tuned for more information, or click here to contact John about adding a piece to your art collection and support The Max Cure Foundation.

Click here to see the rest of the John D. Herz collection

 

Jovi’s Story

Sadly, Jovan lost his battle to osteosarcoma on January 24, 2015.

Jovan’s Story

Jovan, known to his friends as Jovi, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in January of 2013 at the young age of 13. Jovi’s battle began when they found a tumor in his left femur. He has undergone chemotherapy and major surgery to remove the tumor which has been successful so far. Jovi’s strength is inspiring; he even had to learn how to walk again after the surgery. Unfortunately this year a new tumor on his rib (and possible others) were located. He has started more chemo treatment and more surgeries are potentially planned.

Team Jovi Blog GraphicLike most teenage boys he loves video games. His Make-a-Wish request is to be a voice in the next Batman video game and they are trying to make that happen. He always speaks about creating a video game when he grows up. Batman and Iron Man are some of his favorite hero’s. Jovi likes the Miami Heat and the Pittsburgh Steelers and although Jovi is primarily shy when it comes to the sports teams he likes they definitely catch his attention.

Jovi’s amazing team of warriors, including Weekawken High School Peer Leadership, West New York Board of Education (for collecting at 6 grammar schools), Hamilton School, in Harrison NJ, Sims Metal Management, the Latin American Motorcycle Association, Pocono Chapter for coordinating a drop off location at the Pocono Mountain Harley Davidson Store, USB Financial Services, and friends from Florida to Brooklyn to Gathersburg have aided in the collection of over 1200 pair of sneakers in the last thirty days. We were originally introduce to Jovi and his Mother when his Aunt reached out to the foundation.

The Aunt’s Pediatric Cancer Story

“The Max Cure Foundation was introduced to me by my friend and colleague from work, Amanda Goldman. She explained the great mission the foundation has and how they strive to bring awareness and funding for Pediatric Cancer research. I took this opportunity to coordinate a donation event with all of our supporters known as “Team Jovi”. With the help of our amazing family and friends we have collected a total of over 1200 pair of sneakers and the donations keep coming.

My personal mission in doing this is to let my nephew know that he is not in this battle alone!! Kids get Cancer too and we fight as one! My nephew is my inspiration and my hero. His smile is one that lights up a room and this has helped him see that so many people close and as far as Florida are helping to bring awareness about this disease and are here for him. He doesn’t fight alone as no child fighting this battle does. I am proud to be his aunt and proud to bring awareness about Pediatric Cancer! #TeamJovi #Wefightasone”

You Can Help Too

By starting a Dunk Your Kicks collection you are making a difference in the lives of those who have children battling cancer, but you are also leaving an environmental footprint while providing jobs to individuals in this country and abroad. The Max Cure Foundation will receive up to $1.00 per pair based on the quality of the sneakers collected. Start a drop-box program, become an ambassador or host an event. There are many ways to help, you just start by clicking here.

Meet Manijeh and Her Family

For the month of February The Max Cure Foundation would like to honor the Ryan family as our Roar Beyond Barriers featured family. Manijeh, the Ryan’s oldest child, and only daughter is a brave 14-year-old who has been battling brain cancer for about five years. Manijeh started having seizures when she was 3 years old, which as it turns out, was caused by a brain tumor which was initially benign. In 2010 the Ryan family was given the news no parent ever wants to hear, the tumor had become cancerous.

Manijeh and Family 2012Over the years, with radiation and bi-weekly chemotherapy treatments, Manijeh’s medial team was not able to shrink the entire tumor however we are happy to share that as of right now, her chemotherapy is over and the cancer is gone! Even though the diagnosis is good, Manijeh continues to have seizures and requires continuous medication. She will require continued care as those children that survive have a ten times greater mortality rate due to the increased risk of heart and liver disease as well as recurrence of the cancer. “Families facing such challenges have to stay positive” Amos said during an interview at Max Cure’s August 2013 event. With such positive surroundings, Manijeh has the inspiration she needs to continue to fight this battle with bravery.

Amos Ryan EH BasketballManijeh is supported by her loving family and friends including her younger brother, Jalen, her Mother Canela, and her Father, Amos. Amos Ryan is a former high school (East Hampton High School) and collegiate (Southampton College) basketball star who, while in college, went on to be ranked among the nation’s top rebounders. Amos came to this country as a teenager from Union Island in the Grenadines. Following graduation from college, Amos became a police officer in New York City, a position he continues to hold. The Max Cure Foundation recently awarded Amos with the Roar Beyond Barriers Award on August 28, 2013 for his honor, bravery, integrity and the unconditional love he had shown for his family and community.

Manijeh’s Mom stated while the family was included in the Roar Beyond Barriers program that it “has been a great help. It’s taken a weight off so that we can focus on the medical part. If it weren’t for the Plotkin’s foundation, we probably would have our lights shut off.”

The Max Cure Foundation has provided support in excess of $260,000 to 77 families in 12 states from 21 different hospitals. Currently those families receiving support are located in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. You can help support the program by making a donation here and by starting your own Dunk Your Kicks collection. Together we will “Roar For a Cure” until one is found.

Meet Mia | She Helped Inspire Roar Beyond Barriers

Pediatric Cancer

Shreveport Louisiana: Mia, like many kids, has never had anything more than a cold or the flu during the first 8 years of her life. When she had symptoms of what was thought to be the flu, her family took her to see the pediatrician. The flu was indeed ruled out but, blood work pointed to a virus. Another week went by, and symptoms were the same. Three weeks came and went, and she got a small cut on her hand. Within 24 hours, that cut became infected. Although her hand started to heal, Mia still felt achy and feverish. It was at this point her parents noticed her stomach starting to swell from internal pressure. On April 14th, 2011, approximately 4 weeks later, they took yet another visit to see her pediatrician; one which changed their lives forever. They were immediately sent to LSUHSC in Shreveport, Louisiana. Mia, just 8 years old at the time, was diagnosed with leukemia.

Mia Troquille

On April 15th, 2011 Mia and her mother, Christie Barnes, were flown to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The days became weeks, which turned to long months filled with intense chemotherapy, and sleepless nights. Although, they were hopeful, there were many moments blanketed by fear. Sometimes in life, even in the darkest of moments there are small glimpses of light, even if just for a moment. That light coupled with a strong faith and strength from within, Mia, and her family powered through with courage and bravery.

Mia2


“It was in the beginning of Mia’s treatment when she and I first met. I was in Shrevport, Louisiana planning the launch of our first Dunk Your Kicks Event outside the Tri-State Area, with local friends Sonja Bailes, and Ken Ash. I passed through security, and headed towards the gate, on my way home to Manhattan. As I approached the gate, I noticed a mother sitting off in the corner with her daughter. Her daughter had a mask on her face, protecting her from germs. She was hairless. I knew instantly that they were off to St. Judes. I sat down next to the mom, even though there were at least 50 open seats available in the waiting area. I gave her my card, and said if there was anything that she needed to please give me a call. I got up and sat on the other side of the seating area to give them their space. My guess was that they were not up for small talk, especially from a random “Yankee” like myself. To my surprise, weeks later I received a call from Christie Barnes, Mia’s mom. Mia was one of the very first children to be in our Roar Beyond Barriers Program.” Says Max Cure Chairman, David Plotkin.

Mia Troquille_in treatment (3)

It has been 2 1/2 years since Mia was diagnosed with leukemia. Like all leukemia patients, Mia succumbed to the harsh side effects brought on by the treatments. She lost her hair, she gained weight, was pale and nauseous most days, vomiting often in the middle of the night. Her life was far different from her friends and their families. Many times her white blood cell counts were so low, and her fever ran high, she was forced to make late night visits to the urgent care unit. I can remember when Max’s fever would run north of 102 and his counts were low. We bundled him up, put him in a stroller and I ran down 68th street on the Upper East Side to the Urgent Care Unit at Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center. Those were long and painful nights.

Happily, two weeks ago Mia finished her last round of chemotherapy. This was the best early Christmas present she and her family could ever have hoped to receive. Today Mia, is cancer free, which means today is a great day. Tomorrow is a new day of hope, and the following day is one step further away from the cancer that poisoned Mia, and the harsh memories of the past 2 1/2 years. One never knows how much our children will remember of the tough times. As parents, we hope it wont hold them back, as they strive for greatness, and live the life they deserve. Perhaps, for many of the children who fought the battle of cancer and survived, will be better prepared for life and its challenges. For the siblings and the family members of children who were not fortunate to survive, I hope they too will be stronger. There is so much to this disease that I will never understand. These innocent children get drafted to fight a war they never signed up for. Many do survive, but too many don’t. For me, the words “it’s malignant” still echo in my ear every day. Walk one city block in the shoes of a parent who has a child battling cancer, and all the other stuff in your life becomes just “stuff”.

As parents of a pediatric cancer survivor, life is never the same. We never know if the cancer will come back, nor will we know the side effects from the chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is like a tsunami and it takes out everything in it’s path. We hope the flowers will one day grow again, and pray the weeds don’t come back.

Mia Troquille after treatment

Learning that Mia successfully completed her treatment, and is in remission today, hits home to me personally. Of the 60 plus families across the country which we have helped and who is currently in our program, I don’t have the opportunity to meet most of them. But, Mia and her mom invited me to Shrevport, Louisiana back in spring of 2012 to bring Dunk Your Kicks to Bossier Parish. I introduced the community to The Max Cure Foundation, and our mission. It was a roaring success, and we even made it to the State Fair in November.

Now that Mia is no longer on treatment, she and her family can try and get back to life as they once knew it. Every time I approach a gate in any airport, I think of Mia and her mom, and how pediatric cancer does not discriminate. It can come into ones home at any given time, whether living in Manhattan or in Shrevport, Louisiana. It doesn’t care about the color of your skin, how much money you have, or who you know. I learned that for Mia’s Make A Wish Experience, she wants to visit New York City this summer. I promised her mom that with Max, we will take her to one of our favorite NYC Restaurants. On behalf of The Max Cure Foundation, I would like to give three ROARS for Mia. We will Roar for a Cure until one is found. – David Plotkin

Arizona Child with Cancer Gets Support From Max Cure

Pediatric CancerToday, representatives of The Max Cure Foundation had the honor of spending some time with Maurice and his Mother, Amber, at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Maurice is a 9-year-old boy with Nf1 (a hereditary disease) and a Fibrillary Astrocytoma Brain Tumor. He was diagnosed in November, 2011 and has been in treatment since that time. Maurice has had two brain surgeries (surgical resection) and 30 treatments of radiation. He is on round two of chemotherapy and He currently comes to clinic twice every month for treatment.

Maurice loves football and his favorite team is the Pittsburgh Steelers. His told us all about playing flag football and how much he loves playing offence, because, and I quote “so we can score!” His face lights up when he talks about football and his PS3, and you can see the true innocence in his eyes which makes his battle so much more difficult to watch.

We talked with Maurice and his Mother, Amber, during his chemotherapy treatment. Amber informed us that Maurice receives two hours of fluids before his two hours of chemo, and then another two hours of fluids. He has to sit there all day, and even though the clinic at Phoenix Children’s Hospital is a beautiful place, there is not much that entertains a 9-year-old boy other than video games and playing outside! When we asked Maurice how he feels after his treatment, you could feel the pain in his silence as he hung his head and shrugged. Anyone could see that Maurice was trying so hard to be strong, but the harsh treatments are excruciating on his little body.

The struggles are far from over for Maurice, Amber and their family but they are strong, and we have no doubt they will continue to fight this disease.

Maurice’s Message

Maurice Invites You to Dunk Your Kicks!

Arizona Family With Pediatric Cancer Get’s Local Support

Pediatric Cancer

Max Cure’s Erica Bailey spending some quality time with Buddy before his big interview.

The Max Cure Foundation would like to extend a Roaring Thank You to Health2Fit.com for coming out to Phoenix Children’s Hospital today and interviewing our newest Roar Beyond Barriers family! Buddy, his Mother, Delilah, and representatives of both Max Cure and Phoenix Children’s Hospital spent some quality time today sharing Buddy’s story which should air on November 16th at 11:00 on Channel 7.

At first Buddy was unhappy that he was not going to school and had to come to the clinic instead! All it took was a smile, and magically pulling an iPad out of my purse to bring Buddy’s true loving character to the surface. I was welcomed with a hug and smile that could melt anyone’s heart. Buddy is an amazing 5 year old boy with Medulloblastoma, which is a high grade brain tumor. Buddy was diagnosed in December of 2011 when he was only three years old. Despite a surgical resection and a high dose chemotherapy regimen, Buddy’s disease progressed. During his treatment, Buddy spent almost a full year as an inpatient at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Buddy is supported by his loving single Mother and his 10-year-old sister. He loves Ninja Turtles, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Dora the Explorer and the PBS channel. His favorite thing to do is go to school. He loves learning. Buddy is a kind child with so much love to offer this world!

Pediatric Cancer

Delilah and Buddy during their interview with Health2Fit.com

Delilah’s stories are both heart breaking and inspirational. She shared with us today that every five weeks she has to fight to get her son’s life saving medication paid for by AHCCCS as it is even a battle to get the medications she needs to fight for her son’s life. Delilah also shared with us, that for three months prior to Buddy’s diagnosis, she told the pediatrician there was something wrong with her son. He slept so long she didn’t think he would ever wake up. He was throwing up constantly even though he was not eating, he lost 13 pounds over that time frame. Buddy even lost his ability to walk and his Mother was told not to worry. Finally, when he complained about a headache she rushed him to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and he was in surgery hours later. The two of them spent nearly the next year inpatient, and Buddy literally had to fight for his life.

When Delilah talks about how she never left her son’s side except on the first of the month to pay bills and get groceries, you can see how exhausting this ordeal has been. You can hear the pain in her voice when she talks about the sleepless nights, listening to her son cry in pain, knowing there was nothing she can do. You can also see her strength and ambition to keep her son alive. Her dedication to his healing is apparent in every action she takes. Both Buddy and Delilah are an inspiration and we are fortunate to have met them!

Sneakers are being collected at Fix24 Scottsdale Chiropractic and all Arizona Audio Express locations through November 22nd and we will be announcing another collection location shortly.

Meet Ava

The following story is courtesy of Ava’s family:

Ava with a hatAva has always been a healthy little girl & then during Christmas break of Pre-K she started having some pain in her right ankle, then the next week it was her left wrist, we took her to St David’s ER and they called it “growing pains” and advised us to follow up with her pediatrician. The following day we saw the pediatrician and she referred us to an Infectious Disease doctor because she believed she may have “Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis” based on the migrating joint pain she’d been experiencing. We followed up with the Infectious Disease doctor the next day & she ordered labs, x-rays of Ava’s wrists and TB testing. I received a call from her a few days later stating she wanted a MRI of Ava’s right wrist because she saw a possible defect in the bone; the MRI was scheduled for the following week, in the meantime Ava started using her hand again & was running around as normal, then that Sunday, January 13, 2013 she woke up screaming & crying in pain, she was unable to stand or walk, and her knees were swelling. I was scared and in a panic so we made the trip to the Dell Children’s ER; she endured many exams/test during this week (labs, x-rays, MRIs, fluid extraction, bone marrow biopsy & aspiration). Ava was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) January 18, 2013 & the doctors moved quickly the next morning, January 19, 2013 she was taken into surgery to place her PORT, perform a spinal tap to determine if the leukemic cells had made it to her Central Nervous System (they were negative), perform another bone marrow aspiration and she received her 1st round of intrathecal (spinal) chemo. The following week Tuesday, January 22, 2013 she received her 2nd round of chemo in the form of a 2hr infusion. Ava was discharged from Dell Children’s Hospital on Friday, January 25, 2013 and scheduled to return for chemotherapy at her Pediatric Oncologist office according to her treatment plan.

Ava’s treatment plan has consisted of weekly intrathecal (spinal) chemo, IV infusions, multiple chemotherapy drugs being pushed through her PORT and taking 6 oral medications 2 times a day at home.

She started her 6th cycle of chemotherapy (Interim Maintenance 2) on July 22nd, which has consisted of intrathecal (spinal) chemo on day 1 & 30 and Methotrexate & Vincristine pushes in her PORT every 10 days for the past month. According to her treatment plan Ava should complete weekly chemo visits by mid-September and has been encouraged to return to school for Kindergarten! She will begin Maintenance which consists of office visits every 2 weeks, Vincristine push 1x month, Oral Methotrexate 1x week, 6MP pill everyday, Intrathecal (spinal) chemo every 3 months & Bone Marrow Aspirations every other month until she has reached her treatment completion date of March 2015 (treatment for a female child with ALL is a total of 2 years & 2 months)!! REMISSION!!!

Ava in pinkThe emotion that came over us when Ava was diagnosed was a mixture of shock, fright, devastation, and excruciating pain; I believe this is one of the worst things a parent could ever hear. We were of course grateful that they kept digging and found a diagnosis, just not the one we wanted to hear. Ava’s father & I sat in the hospital room and cried our hearts out for hours & then built up the strength to call my parents & sisters to come to the hospital and bring Ava’s older sister, Arianna. Then the medical team explained everything to them & began going over Ava’s plan for treatment, things were happening fast and seemed like a blur, but we ran with the motions and it has become our new normal. This has definitely been a life altering situation, our family has been put through the ringer in the last 7months, we’ve overcome major obstacles, and continue to push through each day hoping for the best. I had to quit my job upon Ava’s diagnosis in January to become her full time caregiver. At the time she had insurance through her father’s employer, but things became hard rather quickly as we’ve been living solely off of child support, we’ve had to downsize our home and Ava’s father lost his job in May, which meant Ava lost her insurance and we became Self Pay.

The 1st 2 months were definitely the worst as Ava was very weak, losing weight, unable to walk and just wasn’t herself. As her mom it was extremely hard watching her go through this & I would lay there at night and cry and just pray for my baby to get her strength back & just run around and act herself. We spent many nights in the hospital, it became our 2nd home, luckily that streak ended around March and Ava started walking, eating and acting like a typical 5yr old, it has been the greatest joy!ava and her family

Meet Nicholas

Nicholas Portugal for FBThe Portugals’ dreams turned into a nightmare on December 12, 2012, when Nicholas was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). He has been treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, among the premier cancer centers in the world.

Nicholas is cared for by his Mother and Father and has two other siblings. His Mother is providing full-time care for his needs, while his Father works 90 hours a week to keep food on the table. Pediatric cancer does not discriminate. The incredible stress that a family has to go through, between the fear of loss, the medical care, the creditors, and so much more, is tremendous. This family is being beaten up by cancer, but they are fighting back!

Meet Qualeek

Felicia & Qualeek McNeil_ RBB NYCQualeek has been in remission since 2012. He was diagnosed with brain cancer a few years ago and has had a rough time with treatment (including losing his hearing, which is affecting his performance in school). He has 4 siblings and lives with them and his single mother in Brooklyn, NY. Their family was recently evicted from their apartment because of their financial constraints (Felicia lost her job while caring for Qualeek) and are now all staying in a friends apartment. Qualeek just turned 10 this year.

Meet Christian

Felipe & Christian Ramos RBB NYCFrom his family: Christian was very cheerful, loved to play with his brothers and sister in school and was a fast learner. He was very intelligent, strong and very friendly, but when he was diagnosed with Leukemia, he became sad and annoyed because he couldn’t do things he could do before. He began his chemotherapy immediately, which made him very sick.  The treatment was for 5 months, and we were happy to learn that Christian was in remission, but soon after he relapsed. Now Christian needs a bone marrow transplant, and luckily his brother Brandon is compatible with him and can donate his marrow. Brandon is extremely happy that he can help his older brother. It is heartwarming to see how his 2 younger brothers and little sister have helped Christian through this.  They are always there for him when he needs something. We are grateful to the Max Cure Foundation for their support through this difficult time.

Sadly we lost Christian to the disease on August 8, 2013 at the young age of 11. This picture was taken approximately 6 months prior to his death. We will always remember your smile. Be Brave Christian.

Meet Ashley

michelle & Ashley 1.11.12jpgDiagnosed with brain cancer at a very young age. Ashley is currently in a wheel chair, living in Harlem with her single mother and brother. She has been in remission since 2012 and is finally back in school, which she enjoys very much!

Meet Rowan

Max Cure KidsRowan is a 1 yr. old child diagnosed  with hi-risk- ALL in  late January.  Her mother is a single parent who had been attending school full time prior to Rowan’s diagnosis.  Ms. Stuckey (mother) tried  to keep up with her studies  but with all the hospitalizations and clinic visits she had to withdraw this term. Along with scholarship money she also received  a monthly stipend of approx. $400.  Unfortunately, that amount was cut in half as a result of withdrawing from school.  The help you will provide will be tremendously helpful to this mother and her child.