Meet Our Honored Hero: Nicolas Hambalek

My name is Nicolas Hambalek. I was born on May 25, 2007. My first ten years were filled with all the lively activities anyone could imagine for an energetic ten-year old boy.  I played baseball, loved school, books, and most of all, spending time with my family. But in January of 2018, all of that changed. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Life was forever transformed like a rug yanked from under me. No more school, no more baseball, and worst of all, almost complete isolation. I immediately started my treatment plan including repeated hospitalizations for chemotherapy and radiation immediately following. My school rallied with their Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Pennies for Patients campaign in my honor, but the day of the big reveal I was so sick, I couldn’t even FaceTime into the student assembly.

The side effects from my treatments seemed unbearable, mostly mouth sores, jaw pain, and lower limb paralysis.  And, I stopped growing. (GASP!) Most days I would wake up with aching pains everywhere and I wanted to cry. The only thing harder than actually going through this experience was watching my parents see me go through this. Their faces during those times remind me that the whole family fights the battle against cancer. I prayed every day for all the people in our lives that helped and supported us. The day that I rang the bell at Valley Children’s Hospital in June of 2018 signified my beating cancer. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I rang that bell not only for me, but also for my family, and our friends, and of course for the caregivers who saved me.

I am now 12 years old; I’m in 7th grade at Baird Middle School; I play baseball; and, I still love school. Although fighting cancer was a defining event in my life, it does not define me. During the past year of remission, I have personally thanked the doctors, nurses, social workers, and LVNs at the hospital and the Oncology department. And now I can thank LLS for all they do to help beat cancer. To all the volunteers at LLS, thank you for your support. I am like any other kid, and then, I know that I am not: I am a survivor. Thanks to LLS, because like me, so many others also survive and get the opportunity to live out their dreams. I am blessed to be an Honored Hero for LLS.

                                                                                        My name is Nicolas Hambalek and I beat cancer.

Meet Our Honored Hero: Emmy Gutierrez

When little girls are 3 years old, they are supposed to not have a care in the world.  All they should be doing is playing, giggling, exploring and feeling the love of their family. Well our Emmy was doing just that until September 2009. School was back in session and that meant mom and dad back to work as teachers, and Emmy and her little brother would go back to Kreative Kidz (in Kerman) to learn and play.  Emmy had just started dancing at Jazzy D, it was all she could talk about, a few months in is when her symptoms began. She had a low grade fever which we attributed to just new school year germs, she started to withdraw herself from playing, and her skin color started to change and then the bruising came. We had been to urgent care 3 times in a week and she was prescribed Tylenol.  September 12th was the harvest festival and Emmy was supposed to perform. She took her Tylenol, she performed and later we celebrated.  In that moment is when she had a severe nosebleed. The next morning we took her to the nearest hospital and were immediately admitted, from there we were transported to Valley Children’s and that is when we found out our baby girl had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

 September 13th we found what would be a new normal for our sweet little Gutierrez family. Emmy began her stay with 2 blood transfusions and chemotherapy. She would end up having a total of 12 blood transfusions through the first few months of treatment. It was a mere month after, and she was considered in remission. However, she would continue chemotherapy for 2 years at varying degrees.  She had so much hair to begin with she never fully lost it all.  Just after her 4th birthday she said to me from the back seat of the car “Mama I am ready to shave my head”. You see her hair had thinned out so much and every time she bathed there would be more left in the tub and on her pillow.  Never once did she lose her sparkle.  She was done with everything on December 21, 2011!  We celebrate that every year.  It was her day “0”, the last day to take a pill.  

Emmy is now a healthy 13 year old girl who loves cheer, volleyball, and swimming.  She knows that God has a plan for her and that her story is not over.  Emmy finds ways to connect with those who are going through similar situations.  She has been known to give words of encouragement and just there as a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.  Her heart is as big as the ocean is wide.  

            During our journey, Leukemia Lymphoma Society was there and reached out to us first.  They helped with transportation costs to and from the hospital, they sent literature that not only helped Emmy but help her dad and I understand the disease.  We participated in Light the Night, what a magical experience.  Emmy also helped her school, Liberty Elementary in Kerman California, raise money for Pennies for Patients by sharing her story and being an advocate for blood cancer awareness.  Emmy’s Godmother walked a full marathon in San Diego with Team in Training in her honor.  Knowing first hand that LLS is at the forefront of finding new and innovative treatments, we are honored to be part of a group that is fighting for a cure.  Finding the silver lining when going through a storm is tough, but if you look hard enough you will find it.

 

Grand Finale

Submitted by sealsj on Tue, 10/15/2019 - 11:50

Grand Finale 

South Texas Chapter - San Antonio

6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Invitation Event

RSVP Deadline: February 11, 2020

KickOff

Submitted by sealsj on Tue, 10/15/2019 - 11:37

South Texas Chapter - San Antonio

KickOff

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Phoenix

Submitted by siquems on Wed, 10/09/2019 - 14:50