Duck Champions Unite

 

Hi Friends,

Ever wondered how many donuts 🍩 you could eat in one month? Well, donut worry, because we have some delicious 😋 news to share! September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month🎗 and thanks to our sweet friends at Duck Donuts we invite you to find out!

From now until September 30, when you visit your local Duck Donuts store and purchase a $1 paper ribbon to be displayed during the campaign, Duck Donuts will show its appreciation by giving you a Buy One, Get One Free Donut coupon. Now that’s something to quack about!

Since 2017, the Quack Gives Back program, has raised more than $140,000 and provided more than 3,500 Chemo Ducks to children and their families.

So go ahead, get that maple bacon 🥓and the chocolate sprinkle and help us give #HuggableHope to the more than 40,000 children who will undergo treatment for cancer this year.

And donut forget to share a picture of your next visit with us on social media and be sure to tag @ChemoDuck and @DuckDonuts.

Forget the scales. Lead with your heart 💖 and let’s see just how many donuts we can eat in one month!

Thank you to all of our friends who continue to support and spread the word about Chemo Duck. We could not do what we do without you! 💛

With gratitude,

Lu Sipos
Executive Director
Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program

 

Gabe Sipos
Junior Board Member and Tech Specialist
Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program

A Smile Does Not Fall From Heaven

Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program recently had the pleasure of working with Dr. Maria Fernanda Sanchez Mata, founder of A Smile Does Not Fall From Heaven of Costa Rica to provide Chemo Ducks to patients in need. 

Here is a picture of the team in Costa Rica, with Dr. Mata in the middle.

Thanks to Gabe’s diligence, we were able to send over a box of Chemo Ducks. Currently, they are only able to provide ducks to the severest of cases. 

This is where patients ring the bell and leave their handprint on the wall after completing chemotherapy.

Said Dr. Mata, “With the donation we received, we decided to provide the ducks to the most difficult cases we currently have and who need aid the most. The donation from Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program definitely enhances the service we currently provide to patients.”

Building Momentum with Pedals of Courage

Pedals of Courage is an organization that donates active toys (such as bicycles or tricycles) to hospitals. The goal is to ensure that children in hospitals still have the opportunity to keep active and have fun! Lexi, the founder of Pedals of Courage, first found out about Chemo Ducks after MD Anderson had a need for Chemo Ducks and reached out to Lexi about working together to get the ducks donated. Fortunately, Lexi knew of a donor who offered to buy all 100 of the Chemo Ducks that the hospital needed. 

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Lexi is only 11 years old! She’s also been running had Pedals of Courage for three years now. We don’t know many 11-year-olds who would spend their time doing something like this! #RockOnLexi

Lexi is a state-level swimmer who loves to read and especially loves science. She enjoys researching lactic acid and how it affects pediatric cancer patients. Lexi founded Pedals of Courage after her three-year-old cousin passed away from AML Leukemia in 2015 and she wanted to help kids just like her cousin. 

Help Lexi and Pedals of Courage by visiting pedalsofcourage.org or contacting Lexi@pedalsofcourage.org.

Shailey Loves Her Chemo Duck

Shailey is a kindergarten student who will be turning six this April. Shailey’s mom, Skye, first noticed a large lump in her neck and took her to their family doctor who prescribed Shailey antibiotics. When that didn’t help, Skye took Shailey to see an ENT. After she was tested for cat-scratch fever with negative results, Shailey had a biopsy and was diagnosed with cancer the next week.

“It quickly climbed from stage one to stage two, then stage three, and finally, after a PET scan, we found out she was stage four,” said Skye. “Thankfully it wasn’t in her bone marrow.”

Shailey had a PICC line placed and then her medi-port. She loves that her Chemo Duck, Quackley, has a port just like she did.

After two rounds of chemo, Shailey was approved for clinical trials immediately. The good news? The cancer is mostly gone!

Shailey has completed three rounds and has been taking everything like a champion! “We had a rough patch after the first round and she ended up getting cellulitis in her eye, along with the flu and sinusitis,” said Skye, “Two more rounds, no radiation and she should be done!”

Shailey really misses school, but she gets to Skype with her class every Friday and she has a Monkey in her school chair to help the class be part of her journey.

Shailey has learned how to rig up an IV and IV bag to give Quackley her medicine! She loves playing with her Chemo Duck and helping Quackley get better, too.

Skye jokes, “I think we have a future nurse on our hands here.”

Thank you to Skye and Shailey for sharing your story with us. We are all rooting for you!

This Group is Second to None!

We are so grateful for the hard work of  Second II None MC (Motorcycle Club), based out of Los Angeles, California. Its Houston Chapter has been working to help children with cancer since 2016, when they first teamed up with MD Anderson Cancer Center and later learned about our program. Since then, they’ve held several successful fundraisers for us, as they saw the benefit of the Chemo Duck being an educational, play therapy tool.

In 2017, Second II None MC was able to purchase 30 Chemo Ducks for children at the hospital. In 2018, they held a Chemo Duck Drive and were able to purchase a total of 80 ducks! Moving forward, Second II None MC will host their 4th Annual Chemo Duck Drive in December and hopes to double the number of ducks purchased each year as they look to start a Christmas in July initiative.

Second II None MC currently has 25 chapters in 11 States, and the Houston Chapter was founded in 2011. It is under the leadership of Johnny “J-Fatt” Schooler and Sean “Big Truck” Turner. The mission of the club is to promote brotherhood, serve the community and give back in areas where needed. We are so thankful for all their hard work for us and their continued commitment to so many families in the Houston community!

You can learn what Second II None MC of Houston is up to on their Facebook page!

Eli Loves his Chemo Duck

Eli is three years old and has been in the hospital since November 2018 after being diagnosed with Medulloblastoma. He had an emergency surgery when he and his family found out about the mass on his brain. He was rushed to New Orleans Children’s Hospital, where he underwent surgery to have the mass removed. It had been growing since he was just a baby, but he had never experienced any developmental delays and had always been a very independent child.

He went from running in his front yard with his little brother and sister to not being able to walk, eat or talk.

He has completed three weeks of radiation and therapy, as well as two weeks of chemotherapy. He is almost walking again and is getting back to his old self.

One of Eli’s doctors gave him his Chemo Duck when he first received his port. Eli’s Chemo Duck has taught him about his own port and how the medicine works to help him get better.  He loves his Chemo Duck because he has been by his side for most of this journey.

Like most young boys, Eli loves cars, motorcycles, monster trucks, airplanes and Paw Patrol.

Eli’s family remarked, “It’s amazing how such big changes can happen in such a small window of time.”

Everyone with Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program is sending well wishes to Eli. Thank you to Eli’s mom, Renesmee for sharing Eli’s story with us!

Kayleigh finds comfort in cuddy companion

When she was just three and a half years old, Kayleigh was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. It was a Thursday, and her mom Valerie Hale remembers every single moment of it.

“I felt so helpless. I started crying so hard I couldn’t even hardly see,” said Valerie. “I sat down beside Kayleigh and she just looked at me and said, ‘Mommy, why are you crying? It’ll be okay. Hold my hand, mommy.’ She didn’t even know what was going on. She was just trying to comfort me.”

When Kayleigh was first admitted on August 4, 2009, there weren’t any available rooms on the hospital’s oncology floor, so she was admitted to the cardiology floor. It wasn’t until the next day that she finally got a room on the oncology floor.

As soon as she got into her room, there was a Chemo Duck waiting on the bed for her.

“We didn’t realize it at the time just how important and special he would become,” explained Valerie. “In the early days, he was always by her side for the majority of her journey. But as time went on, and even today, as she is nearing her teens, he goes with her everywhere. He is her comfort and her peace of mind. He is her best friend.”

While Kayleigh found comfort in her Chemo Duck, Valerie found comfort in her family and other families within the childhood cancer community.

“The most beneficial thing for us during this time was just being together as a family,” said Valerie. “For parents going through this, I’d recommend finding support groups. They help.”  

Today, Kayleigh is almost nine years cancer-free. This November, she will be eight years out of treatment. She still has her original Chemo Duck from nine years ago, as well as a newer duck and a Chemo duckling.

“She loves them all, of course,” said Valerie. “But the others don’t even come close to comparing to her love for her original ducky. I don’t think she will ever let him go.”

Kayleigh has a lot of lasting effects from chemo, radiation and other treatments. She lost a good bit of her hearing and now has a hearing aid on one side and a cochlear implant/hearing aid hybrid on the other. She has also had problems growing and gaining weight.

“Her bones are more fragile now and more prone to breaks or small fractures, too,” explained Valerie. “She is being followed in GI, Endocrinology, Nephrology, sees her survivor clinic once a year, Audiology and ENT as well as Neurology and Mental Health. They all keep pretty close tabs on her to make sure she is where she should be and has everything she needs.”

However, despite her struggles at such a young age, Kayleigh takes it all in stride and very rarely complains. She is doing well in school — all A’s and B’s! — and is friends with everyone in her grade.

In fact, Kayleigh is a very spunky girl. She’s bright and can put a smile on anyone’s face. An artist at heart, Kayleigh loves art, music (more specifically: Twenty-One Pilots) and animals. She has a bearded dragon named Zilla and a chihuahua named Sammy. Known for her big heart, Kayleigh truly cares about people.

Everyone with Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program is so glad to hear that Kayleigh is doing well and that her Chemo Duck is still by her side every step of the way. We cannot wait to see where Kayleigh’s loving, artistic spirit will take her next. The sky is the limit for this sweet, spunky girl!

Meet Bailey and her cuddly companion, Quack Quack

On May 3, 2018, Bailey was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After taking her to a local urgent care as well as a county hospital to try to find answers for unexplained bruising and the onset of what appeared to be a rash, Bailey’s parents were given the new no parent expects to hear.

At just two years and four months old, Bailey began her cancer journey at the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center.

“The child life specialists would give Bailey toys to play with to help make her more comfortable, but she would typically get bored after a while,” said Bailey’s mom, Lyndsay. “When they suggested getting her a Chemo Duck after she had a port placed, Bailey was super excited to meet him and hasn’t grown bored of him since!”

Appropriately named Quack Quack, Bailey’s Chemo Duck has been by her side every single day.

“She loves to show people that he has a ‘bump’ just like her. She loves that she can practice on him and show him what the doctors are doing to her,” explained Lyndsay. “I love that she can understand what the doctors are planning and that she has a buddy going through the same thing as her. I think it makes her feel a lot safer and much more comfortable.”

Although she is currently undergoing chemotherapy every other week at the hospital and oral chemotherapy every night at home, Bailey discovered after a bone marrow procedure on June 4 that there are no more active cancer cells in her system.

Known as a happy girl with a bubbly spirit and an adventurous, talkative and playful personality, Bailey’s spirit continues to shine through every day.

“She’s extremely smart and will strike up a conversation with anyone willing to talk,” said Lyndsay. “She loves Paw Patrol, swimming and playing hide-and-seek. She also enjoys nature walks and trips to the zoo!”

Lyndsay is extremely thankful for the support of her family and her community during Bailey’s cancer journey. They have even helped raise money through fundraisers and benefits to help fund Bailey’s treatment.

“We are absolutely blessed to have such caring people surrounding us.”

Additionally, Lyndsay could not be more thankful for the special care Bailey received at the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center.

“Cincinnati Children’s is an AMAZING facility that I am very confident in. I am so appreciative of the care we have received from everyone there.”

As a mother who has a child undergoing cancer treatment, Lyndsay had some wonderful words of encouragement to share with other parents who have found themselves in this same situation.

“You are not alone! You did nothing to cause this and you are an amazing parent. Going through this journey with your child will allow you to form a bond that no one could understand and no one could break. Sleepless nights holding your child who doesn’t understand is absolutely heartbreaking, but you are not alone, and I am praying for you!”

Thank you to Lyndsay and Bailey for sharing your story with us. We are all rooting for you!

Join Rob’s Memorial Flock

For those who may not have heard, Gabe and I lost his father, my husband, Rob, earlier this year to cancer.

Rob was a true pillar in our family and a passionate supporter of Chemo Duck — he was our loudest cheerleader and our greatest partner in this journey.

To honor his memory, we have created “Rob’s Memorial Flock,” a fundraiser that will demonstrate just how many people’s lives Rob has impacted and will continue to impact, as his legacy lives on.

Our hope is that by joining this special initiative to get more Chemo Ducks in the arms of some very special kids, you will also help us make Rob’s memory synonymous with the love and hope that our organization is so passionate about sharing.

We invite you to be a part of Rob’s Memorial Flock and help us raise $3,000 — the equivalent of 100 ducks — in honor of our beloved husband, father and friend. Even a small donation will still make a huge difference in helping us reach our goal.

We appreciate your support and know Rob would be proud to have each and every one of you as a member of his memorial flock!

Join the Flock

Gift Giving Guide for Kids with Cancer

When a child is diagnosed with cancer everyone feels helpless. Despite our best efforts, it is difficult to know what to do for the family. If you’re looking to help the family by offering your time and talents, you should take a peek at our Parent-to-Parent Guide and download the “Support Plan” section for ways to help out and great planning tools to assist you with becoming a part of the families’ support team.

If you do not live close to the family but would like to offer a gift to show your support, or are simply looking for a way to show the child or family you care at this holiday time, here are five great gift ideas for children and families in cancer treatment:

The Comfort of Home

When children spend a great deal of time hospitalized, they usually like to personalize their hospital room as much as possible. Taking blankets and pillows from home can be a great way to make the room feel cozy and functional at the same time.

    • Bed Rest Pillows
      Bed rest pillows allow the child to rest in a sitting position on something comfortable. For examples of fun bed rest pillows, visit Bed Bath and Beyond and check out a variety of colors, textures and a even some college football themes!
    • A Medical Kit
      Putting together a medical kit that contains one or more of the following useful items is a great way to show your support for a child or family. Ideas for valuable items include:
    • Hand sanitizer
      Try finding a brand that is organic or moisturizes since sanitizer can be rough on hands when used as much as a family living with cancer uses it.
    • The gift of pain free shots with Buzzy®
      Buzzy® is simply a bee-shaped ice pack that vibrates and can be used for natural pain relief. It can be used on any sharp pain, itches and burns. The vibration and cold desensitize the body’s nerves and dull or eliminate pain.
    • Sippy Sure Medicine Dispensing Sippy Cup
      Any way we can help kids take oral medication is a benefit. This sippy cup has a hidden medicine dispenser that snaps into place to make the task so much easier. Along the same lines Ava the elephant makes medicine fun! 
    • A GOOD Thermometer
      Accurate temperature readings are very important to families living with childhood cancer. Ear thermometers are fast and non-invasive.
    • Picc Line Covers
      It’s a good idea to keep peripheral IV lines covered so kids don’t pull at them. Etsy has some fun and funky covers so kids of all ages can cover Picc Lines with pride.
  • G Tube Protectors
    Not all children in cancer treatment need NG or G tubes, but if they do, here are a couple of fantastic products:

The Gift of Good Food

Consider offering your friends the gift of a good meal while they are experiencing a hospital stay. Restaurant gift certificates make this possible even when you’re not able to deliver it yourself. You can research restaurants that are located close to the hospital and provide delivery service. Be sure to include a menu for the restaurant (usually available to print on the restaurant’s website) and cash for to tip the driver.

The Gift of Preparation

Car totes are a useful gift for families who may experience unplanned hospital visits. They can be packed with snacks, blankets and hospital stay essentials and left by the door or in the car. You can provide this gift empty or filled with useful home away from home items.

The Gift of Knowledge and Education

Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program is devoted to educating families about childhood cancer. When we know what to expect we are better prepared and less anxious.

Besides our famous Chemo Duck, we offer many products free of charge to assist families during this time.

Feel free to print out any of our useful tools such as our: