Paisley is a 7-year-old who describes herself as a rainbow and loves swimming, barbies, & aliens in space. She was diagnosed on October 7, 2021, with B-cell Leukemia and was immediately admitted into the hospital for the next 30 days. She is on her 5th cycle of chemo that will be followed by maintenance for 1 year. She recently spent 34 days in the hospital dealing with the adverse side effects of her treatment feeling sick and having trouble walking after spending so much time in a hospital bed. Paisley is supported by her devoted single mom and older brother & sister. Mom works as a medical coder, when possible, her FMLA leave has ended, has no other financial support, and has applied for disability. Mom had to quit nursing school to care for Paisley and they live with her parents. Paisley is one of our 2022 No Shave CT Ambassadors.
Bryson is a 5-year-old who loves to ride his bike, school, soccer, and anything outdoors where he can run around. All that changed when he was diagnosed with AML Leukemia on April 14, 2022. He was immediately hospitalized and started his chemo treatments the next day. He was in very bad condition and was hospitalized for 30 days. He has since spent 1-2 weeks each month in the hospital receiving high doses of chemo. He is supported by his loving single mom who can’t work at her job at the Post Office as she is the only one to care for Bryson. She has exhausted all of her leave and vacation time. Her attempts at getting child support have been unsuccessful so she relies on little available family support. Mom was proudly able to purchase her first home last year with a nice backyard for Bryson that he was thrilled about. She now fears they’ll lose their home as she navigates this financial and emotional hardship all alone. Bryson is one of our 2022 No Shave CT Ambassadors.
Camila is a 2 year-old who loves Baby Shark and is the apple of her mom and dad’s eye along with older sister. She was diagnosed on June 1, 2022, with ALL Leukemia. Upon going to the ER for testing, she was transported to Yale by ambulance and hospitalized for a week to begin immediate treatment. She receives treatment twice a week and will begin her 2nd cycle of chemo in September. She is in and out of the hospital for checkups, receiving blood transfusions with hope that the treatment will work. Mom, who is a domestic worker, is unable to work so that she can be there to care for Camila and her father often misses work as a mason when needed to assist. Mom, in tears, said she never knew this could happen to a family, changing everything overnight. Camila is one of our 2022 No Shave CT Ambassadors.
Anthony is a 2-year-old who loves everything Mickey Mouse. He was diagnosed on June 14, 2022, with B-cell Leukemia. Displaying numerous symptoms, mom took him to see his doctor where he was sent directly to the ER and after 4 hours of testing was diagnosed and sent to Intensive Care at the hospital for the next month. On day 3 Anthony started chemo 4 days a week and will begin phase 3 in October where he will be admitted into the hospital every other week for 2 months to receive very intensive chemo. The poor little guy has not been tolerating the chemo with side affects of nausea and vomiting. Mom and Dad have gone through their savings to barely stay afloat, mom has not been able to work her job as an LPN since Anthony’s diagnosis. They also have 3 other children to care for at home along with the challenging situation with Anthony. In light of this hardship, Mom says they are doing the best they can and has a remarkably positive attitude. Anthony is one of our 2022 No Shave CT Ambassadors.
Brandon is a 13-year-old who loves his dog Lucky, soccer, swimming, & phone games. He was diagnosed with AML Leukemia on June 28, 2022. Upon seeing the doctor at Yale, he was admitted into the hospital for 1 ½ months to receive treatment, went home and the following week was back in the hospital for 8 days to receive his 2nd treatment. He goes to the hospital twice a week for bloodwork and port maintenance. He has been experiencing side effects of fatigue, fever, and poor appetite that makes life very difficult. Brandon is supported by his single mom and older brother. Mom has been working 2 jobs, one as a manager of a laundromat and a night shift cleaning banks. She had to quit her nighttime job and works when able during the day which is seldom so that she can care for Brandon. Mom says she is doing her best to manage everything, but this has been really, really hard. Brandon is one of our 2022 No Shave CT Ambassadors.
Alyce is a 4-year-old who loves dinosaurs, dogs, cats, giraffes, wolves, elephants, and cars; she lives in Stamford with her mom, dad, and younger sister. Alyce was a regular healthy toddler when suddenly, she lost strength from the waist down and fell down the stairs; after an ER visit where they did an MRI, a tumor on the spine was found that has now spread to her brain. A biopsy was performed only to find out that the tumor has no name and the only treatment offered is experimental. She has endured radiation and 4 cycles of chemo with two to go and has been in the hospital for weeks and is now wheelchair bound. Dad was laid off from his job and mom has exhausted all her FMLA and personal leaves and COBRA is ending shortly. Mom was sobbing while relaying this story as she feels completely overwhelmed by everything. Alyce was one of our 2021 No Shave CT Ambassadors – she lost her battle with cancer in November 2021.
Joseph is a 3-year-old who loves batman characters and donuts; he lives in Broad Brook with his mother Megan and his sister with special needs. Joseph was diagnosed last November with leukemia and has two more years of treatment. Mom was working at Walmart but had to quit her job to stay home and take care of him. Mom is recently divorced, they are existing on SSI, food stamps and housing assistance from the hospital. There has been no child support to fall back on and mom is trying her best to keep it all together while battling this horrific disease that no child should have to endure. Joseph is one of our 2021 No Shave CT Ambassadors.
Shania is an 11-year-old who loves arts and crafts; she lives in New London with her mother Gloria and two older brothers, one with autism. Shania was not eating or sleeping and doing things that didn’t make any sense and then was diagnosed with COVID last December which took her to the hospital where they found a Brain Tumor and Diabetes Type 2. Treatment has been a regiment of chemotherapy. Mom is trying to keep her job as a housekeeper, fighting for child support and existing on SSI along with help from the grandparents when they are able. Shania is one of our 2021 No Shave CT Ambassadors.
Jahsean is a 4-year-old who loves clocks, Thomas the Train and Mickey and Minnie Mouse; he lives in Bridgeport with his mom, dad, and younger sister. He was doing well until he began spiking a fever that would come and go. One night his fever spiked, skin turned yellow, could not sleep, sudden weakness occurred and could not stand up. He was rushed to the ER where they did bloodwork and a chest X-ray and immediately rushed him to Yale where they did a blood transfusion and was diagnosed with AML, a rare leukemia. He is about to endure experimental chemo getting prepared for a Bone Marrow Transplant. This poor little guy has been in the hospital for the last 4 months. Dad had to take a leave of absence from work and Mom works as a CNA whenever she is able. As mom says they try each day to make ends meet. Jahsean was one of our 2021 No Shave CT Ambassadors.
Noah is a 2-year-old who loves cartoon characters and Mickey Mouse; he lives in Bridgeport with his mother Ashley and big brother Jakai. One day in May 2020 he was unable to walk or eat, alarming his mother who took him to the ER where he was immediately admitted into the hospital for the next 1 ½ months to receive treatment for a diagnosis of leukemia. He will now undergo a bone marrow transplant which they were hoping would not be needed and will be in the hospital from September – November 2020. Ashley is a single mom working as a Case Manager at a halfway house and has not been able to work since May while caring for Noah. They were forced to move out of their apartment and have been staying with family members to provide a roof over their heads. Noah is one of CCF’s No Shave CT 2020 Event Ambassadors.
Elmer is a 5-year-old who loves dinosaurs; he lives in Greenwich with his mother Maria. In August 2020, they were enjoying the day in a park when Elmer felt sick, dizzy and had no strength. Soon after seeing a pediatrician and having the appropriate testing and biopsy, he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The first line of treatment is radiation and steroids, possibly chemo in the future. Life immediately was turned upside down for this single mom who does not speak English and does not drive. Maria works as a housekeeper but has been unable to work while caring for Elmer. They share living arrangements and expenses with friends to provide a roof over their heads. They are currently living at Ronald McDonald House across from the hospital while Elmer receives daily radiation for 6 weeks. Elmer was one of CCF’s No Shave CT 2020 event Ambassadors. Unfortunately, Elmer lost his battle with cancer in May 2021.
Atryel is a 17-year-old high school senior who loves basketball and the LA Clippers; he lives in Hamden with his mother Brannie. In June 2020, he complained of a swollen knee and after seeing a doctor, followed by appropriate testing he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the knee and leg. In July, he began 10 weeks of chemo treatment and is now being faced with an impossible decision of a leg amputation. Brannie is a single mom who works at Yale New Haven Hospital in medical records. She is on FLMA, has run out of PTO, and is unable to work while caring for Atryel. They live with her sister and share expenses to provide a roof over their heads. Atryel is one of CCF’s No Shave CT 2020 Ambassadors.
On Friday, October 19, 2012, Brynn Levitsky’s life took a drastic change in course. At 22 months old, she was running around, playing with her dog, swinging on her swing set and living life to the fullest. However, on that rainy Friday, Brynn was not acting like herself. A few weeks earlier her mom, Kara, noticed that she was unusually sleepy and running a low-grade fever. Her doctors attributed it to
teething, but when Brynn began refusing to walk, Kara called the doctor and insisted that she be seen for the second time that week. Thank God she made that call. Later that evening, Brynn was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
Brynn completed 4 intense rounds of chemotherapy and at the end of her treatment, tests showed she was in remission. She was to be monitored continuously for the next 5 years to make sure she stayed in remission. Unfortunately, after 20 months of thriving as a healthy and happy 3 year old, Brynn relapsed in May 2014 and needed a bone marrow transplant in hopes of a cure. Brynn received her bone marrow transplant in August 2014 and then spent 1 year in isolation to recover. Brynn enjoyed playing at home with her mother and welcomed a baby sister in March 2015. She was healthy and could not wait to start Kindergarten.
In August 2015, Brynn began kindergarten and loved being with her new friends. However, at a routine clinic visit in September 2015, her family received horrible news that Brynn had relapsed once again despite her being healthy, active, and happy. In October 2015, Brynn began fighting this battle again for the 3rd time. In 2018, Brynn lost her long battle with cancer.
Baby Victoria was Diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma just one month after her first birthday. She was diagnosed shortly after Mom and Dad discovered a strange bump on her leg. Victoria has been receiving Chemotherapy once a week ever since she was diagnosed, she went through 6 weeks of radiation therapy as well. Victoria has a very unique journey, she’s responded to her treatment very differently than other children. The chemotherapy Victoria is receiving causes her to get high fevers which rise so quickly they have caused febrile seizures in the past. But through all the pain and suffering Victoria always remains happy and energetic. She keeps her family positive and as strong as her.
U.S. Military Veteran Matt, age 50, was born in Milford, CT. He spent 17 years in the Air Force Reserves and 4 years in the Navy Reserves. He now resides in East Haven with his wife, Linda, after raising 3 children. Matt has been battling Appendiceal cancer since July 2016, metastasizing to his bladder and various other areas of his body. When he is able, Matt enjoys wood working and sport shooting. He was an LPN at Bridgeport Hospital for 15 years before he was forced to retire due to his cancer diagnosis. He now lives on Social Security Disability, which has made it a struggle to keep up with his bills along with additional medical expenses he has incurred since his diagnosis. Matt was the CCF Ambassador for the Enterprise Builders Golf Tournament in 2018. Unfortunately, Matt lost his long battle against cancer in December 2019.
Like most kids his age, Nate Rosario loves soccer, Star Wars, and playing video games with his friends. Unfortunately, Nate was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2017 and immediately began a grueling regimen of chemotherapy that included countless tests, medical procedures, and trips to the hospital. As his primary caregiver, his mother, Damaris, was unable to work and had to surrender her car, leaving her with no way to get to and from the hospital. Nate was the Ambassador for the Cycle Against Cancer at New York Sports Club in 2017 and CCF was able to greatly aid Nate and his family, helping them acquire a car and assisting with other living expenses. As of August 2018, Nate is in remission, continuing with his treatment, and looking forward to playing soccer again.
“I can’t tell you how much the financial help has meant to us, we’ve been able to catch up on all the bills which is such a huge relief and take care of some things that have been waiting – like glasses for Emily and I. It also enabled us to send the girls each to a special camp, Moira went to an oncology camp in Kentucky for a week which she had been looking forward to since her child life worker at Yale told her about when she first started treatment. She had an amazing time – swimming, horseback riding, and lots of new friends! Emily went to a camp especially for teen siblings in Montana that was recommended by Moira’s oncologist at Yale. It was the best thing that has happened for Em since Moira got sick. Beyond being an incredible adventure to get to fly out to Montana by herself she was finally able to talk about what she went through with people who really understood. I think all of the volunteers and counselors either had siblings who had had cancer or were survivors themselves. They facilitated ‘cabin talk’ which is kid friendly language for group therapy. As a bonus they also had a ton of fun! While the camps were no cost to families we wouldn’t have been able to get them there and back without the help of the Sports Foundation.”
– Erin (Moira’s Mom)
Livinia’s journey with cancer began in January of 2013 when she was only two years old. After a trip to the emergency room with a swollen abdomen, Livinia was immediately rushed to Yale New Haven Hospital to meet with a team of oncologists. Within forty- eight hours of being admitted into the hospital, Livinia underwent an eight hour surgery to remove her left kidney and the cancer that had spread from her kidney to surrounding nodes and her vena cava. During this surgery they also implanted a portacath on the left side of her chest, near her heart, which would be used to administer chemotherapy. After time in the intensive care unit and in recovery in the pediatric oncology unit, Livinia was diagnosed with a stage three Wilms tumor with the more aggressive, diffuse anaplastic histology. With only about five- hundred cases a year in the United States, Wilms is a very rare childhood kidney cancer, but has a very good prognosis with treatment. Following a short recovery period after surgery, Livinia began eleven consecutive cycles of radiation and a projected nine months of chemotherapy.
Livinia is currently in remission and she goes in for routine checkups at Yale New Haven Hospital. She is carefully monitored and has blood work that is regularly screened by her team of Oncologists and she receives fully sedated MRI and CT scans every four months. Livinia attends school and spends her free time playing with her friends at the local beaches, parks and libraries. She enjoys her weekly swimming lessons at the YMCA and she adores spending time with animals at local farms. She likes to play dress up, dance and sing songs. She also enjoys getting dirty and catching frogs while hiking out at Chatfield Hollow. She loves her friends at the CT Cancer Foundation and visits us on a regular basis.
Dear CT Cancer Foundation,
The healing truly begins at the end of treatment. The need for continued support and for the extra time to slowly walk out of the darkness back into the light is perhaps the most forgotten part of overcoming cancer. As we begin the crawl back into a reality that will never look or feel the same again – you have given us hope for better days ahead.
I thank you for giving us your support and for understanding that our need goes beyond paying bills. You have given me time with my beautiful child. You have given me the gift of her smiles and laughter with ice cream, lunch, movies and her new friends at pre-school. You have given us the opportunity to seek refuge away from all of the noise in the world.
You have given me the gift of allowing time to pass- so I can just be in the joy with my survivor wherever the winds carry us. You have given us the chance to seek healing so we may find ourselves and each other again. You have given us a foundation to build upon – our new life.
We offer you our love and endless gratitude. May you always find peace and joy – for it is what you have given to us.
In loving gratitude,
Brittney & Livinia
I cannot thank you and the Foundation enough for your most generous grant of $500.00 . It is truly a Godsend at this difficult period in our lives. Having to give up my work and the extra expense of this illness has out us in a difficult financial position. Please be assured this money has been used to help pay our utility and mortgage bills. Luckily, the heating season is coming to a close, so we will get some relief for a while.
God bless you and the Foundation in your lives and your great cause. Thank you for us and all the families you help so much,
Junior was battling a rare cancer and being treated at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Junior’s mom, Kieva, a lovely single mother of three, walked into the CSF Office feeling a sense of desperation of nowhere else to turn for help and she didn’t know how she was going to feed her children that evening. Kieva had lost her job and subsequently, her home but recently had found an apartment where they were living with nothing but old mattresses on the floor to sleep, all while Junior was fighting for his life. After hours of application verification, Kieva left the office with a $2,000.00 grant check from CSF. CSF further assisted with everything they needed to make the apartment a home through furniture donations, etc. Junior went into remission after much treatment, graduated from high school hoping to go on to college, all with a helping hand from the CT Sports Foundation.
Marik fought bone cancer for six years, beginning in 2012, and was an Ambassador for CSF’s Workout Against Cancer in 2013 during his first bought with the disease. After being cancer-free for three years, he relapsed in 2016 and was CSF’s Ambassador for the Cycle Against Cancer in 2017. Financial assistance from the CT Sports Foundation helped Marik’s parents, Kelli & George, with expenses such as their car payment, mortgage, and a genetic marker test not covered by insurance. Marik bravely endured chemotherapy, leg amputation, and clinical trials with the heart of a warrior, inspiring everyone who knew him. He loved video games, sunflowers, belly laughs, and putting his mother in a headlock. Marik passed away after his long battle with cancer on April 13, 2018 at age 15.
On Thanksgiving 2017, the police knocked on Zuleika’s door with a message from her son’s pediatrician. Three year-old Joshua was very sick and needed to go to the hospital immediately. Once they arrived at Yale, Zuleika learned that Joshua had leukemia and needed to start chemotherapy. While Joshua was in his initial phase of treatment, Zuleika was unable to work. As a result, she lost her housing and the family became homeless. With one sick child, plus two other small children, Zuleika struggled to provide for her family. Joshua was selected as the Ambassador for the 2017 Fishing Against Cancer Tournament. The financial aid that the family received from the CT Cancer Foundation helped them secure a new apartment, furnish it, and pay rent for several months. Joshua entered remission in 2017 and began pre-school as a happy, healthy 4 year-old in 2018.
Sean was an Operations Specialist in the Coast Guard, serving from 2004-2014. In May 2016, he was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer. The cancer went into remission after that initial treatment. Unfortunately, in April of 2017 he discovered that the cancer had returned and went through a grueling, and costly, stem cell transplant at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Sean was the Ambassador for the Enterprise Builder’s 6th Annual Golf Tournament that established a CT Veterans Cancer Patient Fund with the CT Cancer Foundation. Below is a note from Sean’s family.
Dear CT Cancer Foundation,
Sean is recovering very well, Thanks be to God, and today he received a check from CCF and he was in shock. it is a blessing for us how much this money is helping us to pay our bills and we are very grateful for the support. This money is giving him peace because he would like to be working now that he is feeling better, but his body needs to recover from all the treatment. God bless all of you and the CCF Board of Directors for their generous and big hearts.
61 year old Matthew from Meriden was the primary source of income for his family of 8 until he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in March 2020. Matthew’s wife is disabled and his daughter and 5 grandchildren, ages 4 months to 15, live with them. Matthew worked full time his whole life until a couple of weeks ago when the pain related to his disease made him unable. While trying to obtain disability payments, the family is without any income. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, CCF was able to help this family with a full month’s rent to keep a roof over their heads during these trying times.
Amanda is a 37 year old, single mother to her 11 year old son. They live in Niantic and she has recurrent Lymphoma. Amanda was first diagnosed in 2017 and then again in late 2019. Doctors struggled to find a treatment that worked for her and she suffered from terrible side effects and pain. She was only able to return to working full time for a short while before her cancer returned. She hadn’t caught up on the bills from her first bout with cancer before her 2nd diagnosis. She just didn’t have the funds to pay her bills and had nowhere to turn. CCF paid a month of their mortgage to help get them through this crisis. Amanda has since started on the road to recovery and is grateful to still be alive.
Erin lives in Ledyard, is 42 years old, married, and had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was working as an EMT for an ambulance service and was making a good living, but has been unable to work at her physically demanding job due to her illness and complications from her treatment. Her treatments are not covered by her insurance. She and her husband have rented out their home and moved in with her in-laws to try to offset the cost of her care which will total approximately $42,000. She was feeling helpless faced with such large medical bills to treat her disease. CCF was able to send her a large grant to help pay for living expenses.
44 year old Jemma from Norwalk recently applied to CCF for financial assistance. She is married and has 3 children at home all under the age of 18 and was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2020. Jemma has a physically demanding job as a janitor and has been unable to work during her treatment. Her job offers no paid time off for sickness or short term disability. The family has been trying to survive for the past 3 months on less than half of what they normally earned on a monthly basis. CCF was able to step in to help Jemma and her family by paying a whole month’s rent in April 2020.
Naaman was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was just 1 year old in 2018. Little Naaman just turned 3 years old at the end of February 2020, which means he has been battling this disease for over half of his life. Despite it all, his sweet determination is an inspiration to everyone who knows him! Fortunately he is in remission, which is the best news of all! However, the financial stress that it has taken on his parents has been immense. As an Ambassador for one of our Cycle Against Cancer events in Spring 2020, Naaman’s family received a significant grant to help with everyday living expenses.
Ryan is a truck driver from Prospect, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor in April, when he suffered from a seizure, and has been unable to work since. His wife works part time for the local school system and has been out of work because of the Covid-19 closures. Ryan, his wife, and their two young sons have been struggling to survive financially with the stress from their drastically reduced income, the Covid-19 crisis, and his terrible cancer diagnosis. Thanks to all our donors, CCF was able to help this family with a month’s mortgage payment to help them through these difficult times.
Frances is a 69 year old woman from Southington diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. Even with continuous treatment, in 2018 her disease progressed to the stage 4 level. Frances lives alone and has a very small fixed income from Social Security. She struggles monthly to keep up with basic household expenses and has no room in her limited budget for her increased medical bills and for those expenses that pop up annually like property taxes, or insurance bills. Frances was about to have a lien placed on her home from unpaid property taxes when CCF stepped in and paid off the remainder of her property tax bill.
Social Worker Testimonials
“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world…” William Shakespeare ~ Merchant of Venice
Under your guidance, Bridgeport Hospital patients and families have generously benefited from financial assistance to meet their basic needs during a time when they are battling for life. I get the pleasure of hearing relief in patients and families voices and often seeing pleasure on their faces when learning that a CSF grant will pay their oil bill, keep their lights on, pay their rent and assist with much more. I often wonder if it is the gesture of knowing that people care and recognize their struggles or the actual cash assistance that makes them beam. I imagine it must be a combination. Thank you for keeping their hope alive and mine. I am empowered as a social worker when I have true practical ways to help our cancer survivors and their families.
Philana Solomon, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
Oncology Social Worker
Norma F. Pfriem Cancer Institute Bridgeport Hospital
In southeastern Connecticut I have seen countless patients, who are unemployed, underemployed, have lost a job due to illness, or just cannot make ends meet. These patients are mostly working class individuals for whom there is no other financial assistance available. It is heartbreaking to see these families suffer financially in addition to their physical suffering.
I have witnessed the relief of stress this organization provides when a patient receives a check. The check is most often in the amount requested by the patient and can be for help with mortgage payments, non-covered medical equipment, utility bills, COBRA payments, etc.
I cannot state strongly enough that this stress relief is critical for the patient’s ability to combat their cancer as well as the side effects of the treatment for the cancer. I know of no other organization like this one, which provides such immediate and necessary financial support to cancer patients.
I hold this organization and its staff in the highest regard and I am grateful for their consistent positive response to my patients’ requests.
Elynor Carey, IMFT
The William W Backus Hospital
I am writing to you today on behalf of my patient Ms. B. I would like to take this time to personally thank you for the help you offered to Ms. B in her time of need. As you know, she has missed substantial unpaid time from work, and it is anticipated that it will continue for some time. In addition, her husband is on disability, and they are facing significant financial hardship.
I wish to thank you for the money that was awarded to her, as it has helped them to focus on what is really in the forefront at this time: her recovery and continued fight against cancer.
It is such an asset to have your foundation in the state of Connecticut, helping those that are in the greatest need. I am grateful that I can put a smile on my patient’s face when I tell them that they have been awarded a grant to assist them. I thank the Connecticut Sports Foundation for having a hand in bringing that joy to them.
With warm regards and thanks,
Julianne Artman, MHA, RN
Oncology Nurse Navigator, Danbury Hospital/Praxair Cancer Center