This foundation is not only to honor my sweet angel, Cassidy Erin Jackson, but also to carry on her spirit, love, inspiration, and most of all, hope, that one day a cure for childhood cancer will be found.
To bring awareness to the world that childhood cancer exists. To let people know that it is totally different than adult cancers and must be treated and researched that way.
We take gifts to the children at Akron Childrens Hospital throughout the year through our "Love, Cassidy" program. We host an annual "Cassidy's Hope Child" fundraiser, to help with finances for one family each year. Our Hope Child is selected by the hospital. Throughout the year, we hold fundraisers for Cassidys Hope Foundation, hoping to donate to several research facilities.
Our newest program is our From the Heart program. This program consists of various outside companies supporting our cause by donating their services such as; cleaning, cooking, etc. As our foundation grows, we hope to be able to distribute several grants each year to research.
Cassidy's Hope Foundaiton is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
ABOUT CASSIDY'S HOPE FOUNDATION
My name is Pamela Czech. Im Cassidy's mother. She was my oldest of four natural children and one stepdaughter. Cassidy was twelve years old when she received her Angel wings. When Cassidy went to Heaven, her sister Nicole was eleven, brother Cody was seven, sister Emily was two, and step-sister Tiffany was nineteen. Cassidy also left a very kind and loving step-father, my husband, Butch.
Cassidy has not only shown us how to be better people, she has inspired us and others, that she has never even met , to reach out, help others and be part of the cure that we pray will be found soon.
Cassidys journey started in July 2004. She was a very talented and intelligent girl. Cassidy enjoyed, and was very good at, gymnastics. She competed for almost 5 years. She had just started piano lessons 6 months before her diagnoses. She was playing fast-pitch softball that summer also. Her grades were always outstanding. She had many friends, was always popular and kind to others. Cassidy always made me proud.
In July, her shoulder started to bother her. We massaged it, put ice on it and hoped it would heal. After a few days, we went to the doctor. We took her to a chiropractor, hoping he would fix it. Her left shoulder and arm soon started to simply not work right. We took her to the emergency room- no answers.
Finally her doctor sent us to an orthopedic specialist. We got in the next day. An MRI was given and our nightmares began. They saw a tumor inside the top of her spinal cord. We were told to go directly to Akron Childrens Hospital. They were expecting us- Cassidy and me. I was more afraid than Cassidy at this point. This was July 30, 2004.
On August 3, 2004 she had her first surgery; which took 5-1/2 hours. At that time, they let us know it definitely was cancer- but they think they got it all. They named it Anaplastic Ependymoma. We were told that radiation therapy was her next step. She was back on her feet in 2 days. The radiation was scheduled and we started our new life. She went through 25 treatments, Monday through Friday.
Cassidy got so sick- throwing up to, from, and sometimes during her treatments. But she never gave up or complained. Upon finishing her treatments, we celebrated. Two days after her last treatment she fell. Her legs just simply gave out. We rushed back to the clinic at Akron Childrens Hospital. Her tumor had grown back- larger this time. Another surgery was planned. On November 2, 2004, her second surgery was performed. This time, the tumor had formed a balloon-like coating.
The doctors drained it, but couldnt scrape the outer tube because it was actually attached to the interior of her spinal cord. On December 5, 2004 she had another surgery to stop the draining of her spinal fluid. It was actually draining outside her neck. She ended up getting a shunt inside her spinal cord to drain the fluid that kept forming.
Finally, after tests and a long hospital stay, we were able to go home on December 23, 2004 in a wheel chair that lasted until the rest of her days. She, in the meantime, was starting chemotherapy. Her hair starting falling out when we got home, which was pretty traumatic for her and myself. On the morning of December 24, 2004 around 1:00 a.m., we rushed her back to the hospital for a fever. That evening, she had a seizure and was rushed to the PICU.
Her stay there lasted a little over two months. Cassidy pulled through, as many of the doctors didnt think she would. That was one sign of how amazing she was. During that time she had a VP shunt installed from her brain down to her stomach to relieve the pressure in her brain. A pain pump filled with dilaudid installed into her stomach with lots of physical therapy.
Cassidy came home on February 28, 2005. She was doing great, we thought. She went through physical therapy to learn to walk again. She pushed herself rigorously. Trips to the clinic every other week, was the only time spent at the hospital. In September 2005, our family went to Disney World with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Cassidy was able to walk a little with a cane but needed the wheel chair most of the time. Still, not complaining, we had a wonderful summer. She finished 5th grade with a tutor the year before and almost completed the 6th grade on-line.
The night we got home from Disney, she came down with a fever. The next day we were back at the hospital. Another MRI, the tumor had grown. She became very weak and sick from infections. Four different chemo's later, they sent us home. We went back and forth to the hospital constantly. That lasted until April of 2006. Finally, it was decided to keep her home, where she belonged. On April 29, 2006 she lost her battle at home with her family.
Cassidy was such an inspiration to me. I know by starting this foundation, it was just simply right! This is actually Cassidy working through me. She is the one who showed me that my problems werent a fraction as bad as what these children can endure. Cancer has changed my life and any life touched by it. This foundation is for all of you who are going through, have gone through, and will go through what we have. God bless you and I hope our foundation can make a difference in your lives.
Type of Cancer That Cassidy Had
What is an Ependymoma?
Ependymoma belongs to a group of brain tumors called gliomas. A glioma is a tumor that grows from a glial cell, which is a supportive cell in the brain. Ependymoma can occur in any part of the brain or spine, but most commonly occurs in the cerebrum, the largest part of the brain. Ependymoma start in the ependymal cells that line the ventricles (fluid-filled spaces) in the brain and the central canal of the spinal cord. The brain and spinal column make up the central nervous system (CNS), where all vital functions are controlled, including thought, speech, and body strength.
Ependymoma is often classified based on its location and whether or not it has spread
The tumor is above the membrane that covers the cerebellum, known as the tentorium cerebella.
The tumor is growing below the tentorium cerebella.The tumor can also be described by its grade, which is a measure of how "wild" the cancer cell looks under a microscope. Lower grade tumors have more normal looking cells and typically have a better prognosis.
Ependymomas are often removed through surgery unless the location of the tumor makes removal unsafe. Surgery is often followed by radiation based on how many tumor cells remain, the location of the tumor cells, and the age of the patient. Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. Radiation therapy to the brain must be administered carefully because it can cause growth and developmental delays in children.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy is not effective against ependymoma when used alone, but has been shown to be beneficial in conjunction with other treatments. Chemotherapy can either be taken by introducing it to the blood stream or by injecting it directly into the affected tissue.
Clinical Trials are another treatment option in which new treatment methods are being tested to find out if the new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment. More than 60% of children with cancer are treated as a part of a clinical trial.
Provided by: www.cbtf.org
The following symptoms are common in children with ependymoma, although it is possible for children to show no symptoms at all.
* Nausea and vomiting
* Changes in vision, such as blurriness
* Difficulty with walking or balance
* Swelling of the nerve at the back of eye
* Jerky eye movements
* Neck pain