A Special Thanks to Cal’s Angels

Cancer+survivors+from+around+Schaumburg%2C+supportive+siblings%2C+and+Saxon+SuperFan+hold+a+banner+for+Cal%E2%80%99s+Angels+during+the+Gold+Out+football+game.+

Samantha Freehling

Cancer survivors from around Schaumburg, supportive siblings, and Saxon SuperFan hold a banner for Cal’s Angels during the “Gold Out” football game.

Samantha Freehling, Editor-in-Chief

There are hundreds of organizations that dedicate their time to fighting cancer, yet “Cal’s Angels” holds a special place in my heart. More than just a fundraiser, this charity advocates for DNA sequencing–an important part of cancer treatments–for young cancer patients and builds lasting relationships with families. After experiencing cancer myself, I can attest to the love and hope that “Cal’s” strives to bring to every child battling cancer. 

Chemotherapy, the treatment widely used to treat cancer, is an intense and invasive regimen of drugs. These drugs target fast-multiplying cells, including cells in the lining of the stomach, hair cells, and blood cells. As the chemotherapy drugs attack these cells, patients experience symptoms like nausea, hair loss, a weakened immune system, and extreme fatigue. Even after a patient completes their treatment, their body continues to feel the effects of the drugs. It is not uncommon for children fighting cancer to experience hearing loss, lung problems, and long-term damage to vital organs. 

One in every three children diagnosed with cancer will die young because of the treatments they received and only 4% of U.S. federal funding for cancer research is used for pediatric cancers. Luckily, some of this pain can be alleviated with DNA sequencing, which works by reading the bases of DNA strands and checking to make sure that a patient does not have a genetic resistance to chemotherapy. Before Cal’s Angels, this procedure was hardly available for pediatrics, despite its popular use in adult cancers. Thankfully, Governor Pritzker signed “Cal’s Law” in August of 2021. With Cal’s Law, kids no longer have to suffer through months of invasive chemotherapy to find the appropriate treatment. 

After experiencing chemotherapy, I cannot imagine learning that all the pain and damage I endured through my treatment could have been avoided. Although I was lucky to have a type of cancer that only required three rounds of treatment, the chemotherapy continues to take a toll on my body, both mentally and physically, to this day. Particularly considering that time is an important factor in cancer cures, it is difficult to envision a world without Cal’s Law, where treatment is unnecessarily prolonged. 

Beyond Cal’s Law, Cal’s Angels supports kids with cancer and their families through events and wishes, providing joy and connection to families that must face the world of cancer. Events include a “Glow Walk,” as well as a “War on Wheels,” where a team bikes 2,499 miles across the country to raise funds. These events help bring people together, which is widely significant, as many individuals, both experiencing cancer firsthand or through a loved one, can feel isolated from the rest of the world. Cancer takes quite an aggressive attack on the mental health of those who must encounter it, yet I’ve found the most peace and security in interacting with other cancer patients I met through Cal’s. Through the organization’s “wishes,” each child can ask for one gift. Kids ask for electronics, pets, gardens, and even infrared saunas. The wish can be combined with financial assistance and can total up to $1,000. 

Considering the support and charity that Cal’s strives to supply, Many families have become lasting volunteers for Cal’s Angels, like Ms. Hopkins. You might have seen her selling Cal’s shirts outside the cafeteria or during the Gold Out game. 

“My first involvement with Cal’s was around 5 years ago. As a nurse, and school nurse, my support of pediatric cancer research funding has always been a passion of mine, as I have lost students, friends’ kids, and have also known survivors. Through the years, I have become involved here with selling shirts, and in 2020, my involvement became personal with my own daughter’s diagnosis of cancer,” shared Ms. Hopkins, Schaumburg High School nurse. 

Ms. Hopkins greatly appreciates the support and connection she has gained through Cal’s Angels. She hopes to pass on the consideration and commitment she has received from Cal’s to the rest of her community. 

“Cal’s is an amazing organization. I love that they are local, you can see the difference and the efforts they are making in helping kids with cancer. They have been an amazing support to our family, even more than the surprises and gifts. They really look out for the welfare of everyone in the family, not just the sick child. They check in on you and they have events to meet and connect you with other families. We have met so many amazing people thanks to Cal’s, I feel like they are family to us,” said Ms. Hopkins. 

The community at SHS has dedicated much of their time to fundraise and bring awareness to pediatric cancer. Cal’s Angels has become an integral part of the school year and continues to ensure nothing but the best for pediatric cancer patients and their families. If you are interested in becoming a part of their fantastic team, please visit their website to learn more.

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