Thursday, May 28, 2020

Toni gives hope

At age 13, Elgrenetto “Netto” Brown was diagnosed with Stage 4 Rhabdomyosarcoma on October 14, 2017. One month after his diagnosis he started chemotherapy and a radiation regimen. His tumor did not shrink. The then Nassau Christian Academy student was happy to return to school with the start of the 2018 academic year, but his health quickly declined and he was in constant pain. He requested to return to Andros … his happy place, to live the rest of his life, where he was surrounded by family and friends who helped him through the difficult moments.

Elgrenetto sent his Christmas wish list to the Tiffany Treazure Hope Foundation, which with the help of an anonymous donor made Elgrenetto’s dreams a reality. On December 16, 2018, he opened his gifts; the following morning Elgrenetto passed away – 14 months after his diagnosis.

Elgrenetto’s battle with cancer is just one of the many stories from young cancer fighters and cancer survivors that are highlighted in the Tiffany Treazure Hope Foundation’s 2019 calendar, produced by five-time cancer survivor Toni Lewis, which is being sold at $20 per calendar, with 100 percent of the funds raised earmarked to purchase vein finders (a vein detection device that has been shown to improve first stick success by 92 percent, minimizing the amount of time children are stuck with a needle), and EMLA cream (which is put on the skin before certain medical procedures, and helps to stop pain on the skin.)

“The biggest issue with children when they have to do chemotherapy is the needle stick,” said Lewis. “And the vein finder is an ultraviolet light ray that when put to the skin shows where the veins are, allows the nurses or whoever is administering the shot or taking blood to find the vein, so it minimizes the amount of times the children are stuck with the needle. And the EMLA cream they put at the port site about an hour or so before they take blood, receive blood or do chemotherapy; it numbs the area and they don’t feel the prick there as well.”

Lewis is also the founder of the Tiffany Treazure Hope Foundation, a pediatric cancer foundation that honors the life of her sister Tiffany Callendar, and Lewis’ daughter Treazure – both of whom passed away from rare forms of cancer and a rare genetic cancer called Li Fraumeni Syndrome.

The non-profit foundation focuses on giving hope to children with cancer and child cancer survivors, hosting them to fun-filled social events (which they sometimes invite children with sickle cell anemia to as well) designed to allow the children to briefly forget about the issues associated with navigating the challenges of being a cancer survivor, or having to undergo surgery and/or chemotherapy treatments.

Lewis said they work to give hope and put smiles on the faces of the children with cancer and who are either cancer survivors or actively doing chemotherapy as they try to meet their needs.

The scope of their efforts to date include ensuring the children’s enrollment in school; transportation to and from school if they’re not mobile; assist with purchasing uniforms, books and school supplies; ensuring the children attend tutoring classes so that they can keep up with schoolwork; assist with transportation from home to the hospital for lab work, doctor visits and/or chemotherapy once they are released from the hospital if their parents can’t drive them; hospital visits and delivery of chemo care kits/Treazure Packs for children admitted to hospital to put smiles on their faces and has stuff they need while in hospital such as a blanket, bottles, toothbrush, hand sanitizer, and toys.

The foundation was started in May 2018. Lewis said her goal in founding the organization was to give hope one life at a time.

“Cancer is near and dear to me. My family has a syndrome … a genetic issue that is passed down where [a] gene which is present in everybody, does not function properly. Ours works differently,” said Lewis.

It’s a gene her father the late Walter Callender had. He ran in a Summer Olympics and the next year he was dead.

Lewis’ sister Tiffany had her wisdom teeth, which had been bothering her for a while, removed at age 17 in her final year of high school; she was diagnosed with a lyposarcoma.

Tiffany, who died in 1994, is represented in the calendar in the month of January to introduce the foundation, and is followed by her niece, Treazure, in the month of love, in February. Treazure, while in third grade was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the left thigh. She began treatment soon after diagnosis; she died in 2006.

Elgrenetto is represented in the month of March.

The other nine cancer fighters/survivors all have their stories told in the calendar.

There’s eight-year-old Jude Dieurisma, represented in April, who is described as a warrior who rolls around in his wheelchair and whose bone cancer treatments are especially hard because he is afraid of needles and who the vein finder would be perfect for.

Zion Knowles, represented in May, is described as a living miracle, having gone through a stem cell transplant, pancreatitis, seizures, amnesia and more, and is now fully recovered from her initial 2012 leukemia diagnosis.

Allen Adderley, 11, who was also diagnosed with leukemia, and who sustained a hemorrhagic stroke that left him in a wheelchair, is represented in June.

Dreaton Nordiles, who was recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is represented in July.

Ginia Moss, 13, who was diagnosed with a spinal tumor, underwent four months of chemotherapy and is happy to be back in school.

Ethan Bunbury, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and cured in six months, is in September.

Mikela Gibson, who is represented in October, is described as a true survivor, having experienced the process of preserving her lower leg, attaching it to the thighbone, then using her ankle as a knee joint in her rotationplasty surgery, which was essential for her for as a bone cancer survivor.

Rickyson Xavier is continuing to live his best life with leukemia after he was diagnosed in May 2017. He is represented in November.

Gerard Pinder, who is represented in December, is free of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and enjoying life as a six-year-old.

The Tiffany Treazure Hope Foundation calendar can be had for a donation of $20 and can be purchased at Buds and Blossoms located at Market and Wulff Road, and at Curry’s Pharmacy, Palmdale Plaza.


Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.
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