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29 Oct 2018

This Kiddo Beat Cancer. He Celebrated. Then the Unthinkable Happened.

 

Dominic Barone worked hard. He told cancer where it could go, beating it into remission. Then his family decided that his accomplishment deserved an incredible celebration.

Like most kids who beat cancer, Dominic wanted everyone in his hometown of Pensacola, FL to take some joy from his accomplishment. He wasn’t looking for gifts or attention. He just wanted everyone to know that if he could win, then so could others.

Then the unthinkable happened. No one showed up for Domnic’s celebration. 

What Happened to Dominic Barone?

Dominic was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just four years old. Although the survival rates for this cancer are high, with 98% of kids going into remission just weeks into their treatment, about 90% are eventually cured.

You must be cancer-free for at least 10 years to meet the clinical definition of a cure.

“As a mother, it’s like telling me that I’m about to die,” Dominic’s mom said. “The head charge nurse comes in, she’s like, ‘Hey, why don’t you talk with me. We’re going to go talk in here.’”

“As soon as she says that, my whole body goes completely numb.”

Dominic required numerous blood transfusions, spinal taps, and other treatments to fight the disease. It would eventually lead to him going into remission. His mom describes it as a “good day.”

Despite the diagnosis, Dominic had three years of daily chemotherapy to go through to support his health. 

June 28, 2018, was his last chemotherapy session. That was when the party would be. The only people who showed up for the event were a few family members. 

“I saw him looking out the window, waiting for people, and there were tears in his eyes,” his mom said. “No one was showing up.”

One Facebook Message Changed Everything

Once word got out about the party where just six adults and one kid showed up to celebrate Dominic’s accomplishment, they all rallied around him. 

They threw him a surprise party that no one would ever forget.

“He talks a lot,” said his mom, “but he was speechless.”

Local businesses got together for the event, donating pizza and drinks so that everyone could have something to eat. There was a bouncy house where Dominic could jump up and down to celebrate his success. 

There were even t-shirts printed for Dominic that celebrated this momentous accomplishment. It’s not every day that someone can go through three years of daily chemotherapy and come out with a smile, you know.

“The most meaningful thing was to see everybody there for my son,” his mom said.

There were high fives all around that day. None of us know if we’re going to wake up tomorrow for sure. That’s why being able to show love when we can, even if it’s just to let a kid have a chance to enjoy being a kid again, will be something that changes the world.

That’s the lesson we can all take from this. We might not have the power to change everything, but it is possible to change something. 

03 Oct 2018

Superhero Capes Help Kids Fight for Their Lives

 

A superhero cape is more than just a piece of fabric. It is a tool that can transform the kids who wear them into fighters who can put their illness or disease into remission.

Kids who find themselves in the hospital because of cancer and other devastating diseases look forward to Cape Day, even if they don’t realize what is coming. It is a way to honor their strength when everything else seems to be going against them.

When a child puts on their own cape, then they begin to feel like the superhero that everyone else already sees in them.

It might be a small boost of encouragement, but it is also a vital message that every child and family receives with this simple gift. You can get through this.

You have what it takes to be great.

It All Started with One Volunteer and a Handmade Cape

The inspiration for Cape Day came about at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta because of one volunteer with a big heart and a child named DJ. After giving the kiddo the handmade cape with his initials on it, the hospital staff saw a remarkable transformation in his attitude.

That started a tradition that has become an annual ritual at the hospital since 2014. Each cape represents perseverance, hope, and courage.

It’s not just the kids who get to wear the capes either. Adults and family members are superheroes too because when a child gets sick, all of their loved ones join in on the fight.

Then you’re encouraged to go outside and do something kind for another person, whether that act is big or small. When there is more kindness in the world, then there are great things that we can all do to change the world.

And no one is more inspiration than a child working to defeat cancer when you want to talk about courage, compassion, and kindness.

How You Can Get Involved with Cape Day

Cape Day is an annual tradition that is celebrated at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, but it is also something that you can participate in wherever you happen to live.

The official day is October 19th. You are welcome to celebrate the meaning of this event every day throughout the year if you wish. 

That’s because you have the power to spread kindness wherever you go.

Although the day is celebrated only once per year, you can get involved at any time with this project by sponsoring a cape for a patient. Just go to the hospital’s primary website, www.choa.org, and then click on the link to buy a cape.

This process will take you to the checkout screen where you can donate however many capes you want for $20 each. It is a purchase which ensures that a child in need will get the chance to become a superhero for the day.

If you prefer to donate the money by mail, you can send a check marked “Cape Donation” to the following address.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

3395 NE Expressway, Suite 100

Atlanta, GA 30341

21 Sep 2018

This Doctor Saw Overdoses Happening Everywhere. She Decided to Change Things.

 

Her job began as an emergency room doctor. Now she’s out on the front lines, working to prevent drug overdoses, one case at a time. That’s because she believes that there is more that must be done in the fight against addiction. 

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of overdoses in these homeless camps around Wilmington,” said Dr. Sandra Gibney, who works at St. Francis Hospital, “and sadly, because of the location, by the time we get to them, it’s not an opportunity to revive them.”

Everything changed for her when a 42-year-old man died of a suspected heroin overdose, his body found under a simple blue tarp at the homeless camp. He was pronounced dead at the scene, with the paramedics informing Dr. Gibney about the incident after their response.

One dose of naloxone could have saved his life. Now Dr. Gibney wants to make sure that if something similar happens again, then a different outcome can become possible.

One Key Partnership Is Changing the Threat of an Overdose

Dr. Gibney partners with the Division of Public Health and Brandywine Counseling to visit the numerous homeless campsites that are around Wilmington. They are providing naloxone to people who they see are actively using heroin, or those around them who may be struggling with addiction issues.

“I want to believe that if we had these out here a month ago,” Dr. Gibney said in July 2018, “that two people wouldn’t have been dead.”

Naloxone has been approved for sale in pharmacies across the United States, including Delaware, with some states allowing for a standing order which allows anyone to purchase the product. It is a costly item, however, with the minimum price about $40. Some may need to spend $72 per dose.

Placing a dollar figure on a life is impossible. Dr. Gibney finds it an unreasonable situation to ask families to make a choice between their budget and the issues with addiction. These are vulnerable populations who struggle, even when they might want to make changes.

Over 140 Overdose Deaths Occurred in Delaware in Just 6 Months

Any death is one that is too many when dealing with an overdose in the eyes of Dr. Gibney. She realizes that saving everyone may not be a possibility, but that doesn’t excuse her from trying to do something.

“If it’s one [person] in the state, then boom,” she said. “I’ve moved the needle.”

With Fentanyl hitting the streets in Wilmington and elsewhere around the country, a painkiller that is 50 times more potent than heroin is trying to take lives. Naloxone can make a positive impact. It only takes Dr. Gibney about two hours to distribute the doses she and this partnership puts together for their outreach efforts.

She’s less interested about who takes the medication, wanting people to use it instead. Each box contains information about Brandywine Counseling, giving each recipient information about the resources they can contact if they need something.

“If it saves a life, I’m all about it,” said Dr. Gibney. “There’s no cost I can put on that.”

19 Sep 2018

This Air Force Dual-War Veteran Just Showed Us All How to Be Brave

 

Bravery has never been a question for Air Force veteran Daniel Bliss. At the age of 95, Bliss has seen everything that life could throw at him. He served in both World War II and the Korean conflict.

When he saw that a 5-year-old boy was too scared to jump into the pool, Bliss knew that there was a lesson to be taught. So, he did what he’s always done throughout his life: he jumped right into the pool.

That’s not to say the process was easy for Bliss. He has several physical issues which limit his movement too. 

Bravery Comes in Many Forms

With the help of his family and friends (and a walking cane), Bliss made his way onto the diving board. His wife of 72 years helped him onto the platform, which was steadied by two sets of hands in the pool.

Then Bliss shuffled his way forward. He stood there holding his arm for a moment. There was a second when the board wavered on him, which almost took out his feet as he stumbled toward the side of the pool.

With steady hands and a strong disposition, Bliss took one more look at the pool. Then he dived right in. 

“He’s very spry for his age,” said Christine Ross, who is Bliss’s daughter. “He’s 95, soon to be 96-years-old, and is full of amazing stories and has a song for every situation.”

Daniel’s wife is also a veteran who served in the Coast Guard as an administrative assistant.

“Little did we know that he would actually dive,” said Kevin Ross, who is Daniel’s grandson.” He said soon after this video that he wants to be seen around the world.”

What We Can Learn About Bravery

Teaching kids to be brave is something that we can do today, whether we’re a 95-year old veteran or a stranger on the street. Having courage starts when we are willing to first explain what it is.

Bravery can be unpredictable and frightening. It might make someone feel nervous and scared on the inside, even if they look courageous on the outside. You don’t always see the effect of courage right away either. 

There are times when doing the right thing feels like you’re getting a negative outcome. That’s why it is essential to teach these concepts about bravery whenever possible.

1. Being imperfect is okay. Failure is often a sign that you chose to be courageous. Learning from our mistakes is how we grow. 

2. You won’t always feel ready to be brave. That’s why courage should always be celebrated when we see it.

3. Try something new whenever you can. Pushing your comfort boundaries will take you further than you ever thought possible.

4. People need examples of bravery to be courageous themselves – just like Daniel Bliss jumping into a pool at 95 years old.

5. Be positive about the experience. Celebrate successes and mistakes. Being brave means we’re all doing what we think is right for ourselves.

Courage can become a habit if we allow it into our lives. You may not have fought in two significant conflicts, but you can have the same heart that Daniel Bliss showed when diving into a pool.