Gabe Sipos is the inspiration behind the Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program. Born on New Year’s Day 2002 in Nashville, Tennessee, Gabe was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma (a soft tissue tumor) in his sinus cavity just one week shy of his first birthday. After weekly chemotherapy treatments for nine consecutive months, 30 radiation treatments, numerous surgeries and dealing with the complete devastation that cancer brings on a family, Gabe was declared cancer-free just before his second birthday.
During his treatment, he made a very special friend. Connor Hunley became like a big brother to Gabe. Their friendship evolved as Connor and Gabe traveled through treatment together. Gabe admired Connor so much that he named his Chemo Duck after his close friend and will be forever indebted to Connor’s willingness to take him under his wing.
In 2010, Gabe was selected to play the role of Travis in the major motion picture, Country Strong. Gabe played alongside A-list stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw. In the movie, Travis is a Make-A-Wish recipient with whom Gwyneth’s character visits, performs and ultimately plays a role in transforming the troubled singer’s life. Gabe enjoyed the entire process and not only represented Chemo Duck well during the production process but continued to make us proud on Hollywood’s red carpet for the premiere event and in interviews with the media following the movie’s release. We are grateful for the opportunity to share the Chemo Duck story with everyone involved with the movie. It was an experience that we’ll never forget.
Gabe’s involvement and commitment to his name-sake program has become an integral part of who he is as a young man. He is very proud of the program his mother created in honor of him and considers Chemo Duck as a special way to preserve the memory of all the friends he made and lost during his journey through the world of childhood cancer.
Over the years, Gabe certainly continues to deal with the repercussions from his cancer treatment, but all-in-all, he is a healthy and happy young man. He excels in math and science and enjoys spending time with friends. His hope is that every child living with cancer will enjoy the benefit of having a Chemo Duck companion. To this day, Gabe cherishes his Chemo Duck, Connor, and speaks often about what an important role Chemo Duck played throughout his treatment.
What started out as a special friendship between a boy and his duck has grown into so much more for Gabe and his family. Now, Gabe is determined to not only bring comfort and hope to children living with cancer but to also ensure that the program serves as a tribute in honor of the friends he lost along the way.