When Taegan Strain was diagnosed in 2002, the enterprise known as Gabe’s My Heart was not yet organized. There were not hundreds of cute chemo ducks available for children diagnosed with cancer.
At the time, there was only one Chemo Duck and it belonged to Gabe Sipos.
“Taegan and Gabe and another patient would all play together during clinic,” said Tammy Strain, Taegan’s mom. “She saw Gabe’s duck and she wanted one.
“Well Lu made her a little bunny that was all girly,” said Strain. “She put a straw hat on it and gave it a feeding tube. And Taegan played with it all the time. Every time she would have something done, she would doctor on her bunny.
“She used bunny to show her to friends and to explain to them what was happening with her.”
Strain said her daughter never named her bunny, but cherishes it and has put it up for safe keeping.
A year ago she received a Chemo Duck and has used it to help raise money for Gabe’s My Heart. This summer, during a mission trip to New York, Taegan met a family with a 6-year-old who had been diagnosed with the same form of cancer as Taegan. She got their contact information so that he too could enjoy his very own Chemo Duck.
“During that time she was in treatment, she felt like everything was out of control,” said Strain. “I think it helped her work through what was going on with her. Having this animal, it was a way she could gain back some control. When kids are sick like that, everyone gives stuffed animals.”
“But none of them look like they do. Chemo Duck is like them and it’s a comfort to have a stuffed animal going through the same illness.”
Taegan was 3 years old when she was diagnosed with ALL. She is now a 7th grader at Franklin Simpson Middle School in Franklin, Kentucky.