Friday Frontline: Cancer Updates, Research and Education on July 2, 2020

July 3, 2020

From a care team giving a patient with metastatic breast cancer a taste of Paris after a planned trip had to be canceled to a local group of veterans honoring one of their own after a lung cancer diagnosis, here’s what’s making the headlines in the cancer space this week.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced one patient with metastatic breast cancer and her family to cancel a trip to Paris. But, Joan Ann Piper’s cancer care team made plans to bring Paris to her.

Piper was first diagnosed with, and treated for, breast cancer in 2013. All signs of disease had vanished but in 2019 a new diagnosis revealed that she had metastatic breast cancer that spread to several parts of her body. During treatment for her newest diagnosis, Piper became close with her care team at Saint Alphonsus Breast Care Center, in Boise, Idaho, and considered her oncologist, Dr. Bobby Chawla, a friend.

“We decided to make an event for her at the cancer center, which included the Boise Symphony to play music for her, we ordered pastries, a bunch of different French pastries," Chawla said in an interview describing the Paris-themed event they had planned for Piper. "Everybody got Mickey Mouse ears to wear. We tried to make it as special for her as possible, to try to bring a little bit of Paris to her.”

Piper was overwhelmed with emotion when she saw her care team had created a “little corner of Paris” for her and was impressed by the creativity of the team and how much they cared for her. “I just couldn't get over it, I felt like it was the kind of thing family does,” Piper said.

Esai Valdez was in for a surprise when his parents took him out to their driveway to see a box filled with all his favorite toys, games and superheroes

The nonprofit Special Spaces creates dream bedroom makeovers for children diagnosed with cancer and who are within one year of their treatment. But like with most things during the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to change how they went about giving children their dream bedroom. That is why Esai Valdez, who is receiving treatment for leukemia, and his family received a box filled with Roblox figures, Spider-Man toys and Xbox One games instead of having volunteers come in and remake the bed. It didn’t stop the Valdez family from feeling the joy of the new bedroom material.

"He has to go get spinal taps every three months, which is pretty intense for a 5-year-old, and then every day he has to take medicine and steroids," said Esai’s mom Tomiya Valadez-Enderle in an interview. "And it's been a rough challenge. It really has. But he's pulling through and it's awesome. It's going to make everybody stronger; I think."

The family will be assembling the bedroom themselves with detailed instructions from Special Spaces. Esai was all too ready to jump into his box and experience the new toys before even making it all back into his house.

A 6-year-old’s visit to the set of “Jurassic World: Dominion” was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing production to shut down. However, Maverick Bouchard Miranda, who is receiving treatment for leukemia, was given a dinosaur-themed parade to make up for canceled visit.

“We’re hoping to give him the impetus to continue to live his dream and to continue to wish,” Make-A-Wish Southern Florida spokesperson Richard Kelly said in an interview. “He’s just going to love today and what today represents, and that’s a community of people that are coming together to give a child that they don’t know some joy, some hope and something to look forward to in the future.”

The organization saw it as a way to remind Maverik that they are still thinking about him and still plan on honoring the original wish of bringing Maverik to the set of “Jurassic World: Dominion”. In the meantime, Maverik’s mother Stefany Bouchard was overwhelmed with joy to see the turn out for her “little man”, even during the pandemic.

Vietnam veteran William Burdick didn’t get to go on his Honor Flight with other veterans due to a lung cancer diagnosis a year ago, but that didn’t stop Honor Flight members from giving Burdick a virtual experience.

Honor Flight is a nonprofit network that helps transport United States military veterans to the memorials of their respective wars that are in Washington, D.C. Local veterans who heard about Burdick’s situation drove by his house and hosted a ceremony for Burdick and his family.

"It far exceeded my expectations,” said James Burdick, William Burdick’s son, in an interview. “I want to give my heartfelt thank you to Bakersfield for showing my dad gratitude for being a veteran. It really means a lot to our whole family that so many in this community showed up to give support to my father.”


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