Monday, July 13, 2020

How the Cancer Alliance of Naples Helps the Community

Itzel is a very determined little girl who is not letting her disability Interfere with her life. Submitted photos

Itzel is a very determined little girl who is not letting her disability Interfere with her life. Submitted photos

by Carol Glassman

Have you ever wondered exactly how your hard-earned donation dollars are put to work? The Cancer Alliance of Naples (CAN) deals with heartbreaking situations almost on a daily basis. This grassroots organization helps cancer patients by assisting them with their everyday expenses so that they can continue with treatments. Sometimes the public hears of these stories but does not really relate to them.

On Thursday, January 27, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the CAN is sponsoring a fundraiser, Wine, Women, and Shoes at the Naples Hilton. It’s a fun, fashion and food event with Shoe Guys presenting the latest in foot fashions on a silver platter, auctions, and raffles. Aside from the glitz, and glamor, here is how the proceeds will help the CAN help local people.

Try to imagine Itzel Chavez, a sweet three-year old child, who underwent surgery for cancer just last month. To save her life, doctors in All Children’s Hospital (St. Petersburg) amputated this little girl’s arm above the elbow, while her parents stayed at the Ronald McDonald House.

In January 2008 Itzel was diagnosed with Infantile Myofibromatosis in her arm. The Alliance began working with Itzel and her family last year.

A few months ago, Itzel’s loving parents Corina and Pablo (American citizens) had to make a dreadful decision: allow Itzel to undergo a second bout of chemotherapy with a drug that was untried in children and offered no guarantees, or agree to amputation of her

Itzel Chavez with her mother Corina.

Itzel Chavez with her mother Corina.

arm. Corina said she had only two weeks to agonize over the decision but feels they made the right choice.

Today, Itzel seems happy, active, and full of life as she moves butterfly-like from one activity to another. Corina had to quit her job in order to stay with Itzel. Her father Pablo is dependent upon the somewhat diminished construction industry for work. There are two other children, four-year old Isaa and 8-year old Cihalli as well.

Itzel is currently being fitted for a prosthesis, while Corina must be available to take her to appointments with a psychologist and physical therapist in addition to other medical appointments at Children’s Hospital of SW Florida in Fort Myers.

“The psychologist said she is doing very well,” Corina said, “but she often becomes frustrated at being unable to do the things she did for herself previously. Before she lost her arm she used to dress herself and was very independent.”

Although Pablo and Corina realized they had received the maximum amount of funds allotted by the CAN, they recently appealed for more as they needed extra time at home to assist Itzel with adjustments necessary for the loss of her dominant arm.

This is only one of the heart-wrenching issues that the Alliance faces, trying to assist people who live in the community. The money CAN raises stays in this community, and can indeed help cancer patients with some of their daily living expenses.

Event tickets are $100. For reservations call 239-436-4673.

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