From the death of Gregg Leakes to the effects of Hurricane Ida on a patient with stage 4 cancer, here’s what’s happening in the cancer landscape this week.
Gregg Leakes died from colon cancer this week at age 66. He was married to NeNe Leakes, who is known for her time on “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
"Today the Leakes family is in deep pain with a broken heart,” said Ernest Dukes, a publicist and family friend, in a statement. “After a long battle with cancer, Gregg Leakes has passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by all of his children, very close loved ones and wife Nene Leakes. We ask that you pray for peace and strength over their family & allow them to mourn in private during this very very difficult time."
Leakes had six children: Daryl, Damian, Dexter, Denton, Katrina and Brentt, as well as a stepson, Bryson, from NeNe’s previous relationship. His cancer diagnosis was first announced in June 2018, when NeNe shared that he had stage 3 colon cancer but was declared cancer-free as of May 2019.
Leakes’ cancer unfortunately returned in June of that same year, as NeNe explained that he had been hospitalized and was undergoing surgery. This past month, Nene explained that Leakes was “transitioning to the other side,” when customers at The Linnethia claimed she was being rude, stating to them, “You don’t know what we’re dealing with right now. So, when people approach and say, 'You're rude because you don't want to say happy birthday,' my husband is at home dying. I don't want to say, 'Happy birthday,' OK? So please, give us some respect. Please, give us some love, OK?"
Christy Lorio, a New Orleans-based writer with stage 4 colorectal cancer, is still in “medical limbo” after being displaced by Hurricane Ida.
Lorio, 41, was supposed to resume treatment this week when the hurricane made landfall on Louisiana, and is now unsure when she will be able to return back to the area or receive her next round of treatment.
“I’m a stage 4 cancer patient, which means I’m on chemo for the rest of my life. And I have to get a chemotherapy drug called Avastin, every other week,” Lorio told Survivornet.
Lorio was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 when she experienced a seizure while studying in Ireland at the time. She found out that the cancer had metastasized to her brain – causing the seizure – and that she would need chemotherapy.
She took a brief break from the treatments as she was out of state, and was all set to return when the hurricane hit.
“It’s funny because I had a colonoscopy on Friday morning and then I was just really tired because I couldn’t sleep the night before so it took like a five-hour nap during the day,” she said. “And in that five-hour nap the hurricane progressed into a category 3, category 4.”
Inge Thieleman is a breast cancer survivor and frequent runner with a positive attitude. She was treated three years ago for her disease and still takes a daily oral form of chemotherapy. Now, she is planning to run her 16th half marathon to raise money for children with cancer via St. Jude Research Hospital.
"I work a 10-hour shift, and after my shift I get off work, I go run. After my run, I go door to door for donations for St. Jude for the children," Inge told WTKR.
She has raised over $20,000 for St. Jude in her years of participating in the Rock and Roll Half Marathon event – a form of philanthropy that inspires her to keep moving forward and gives her peace of mind.
“I'm tired, I'm exhausted, but when I think about these kids, it keeps me going. It gives me all the energy in the world to go forward and do what I have to do for them," she said.
Dancing While Cancering is a nonprofit with a goal of bringing joy to children with cancer through “smile packs,” which are backpacks filled with toys, decorations and various small items.
The organization has been handing out the packs to patients with pediatric cancer at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, which staff members said is causing a positive impact.
The nonprofit was co-founded by Pammy Kramer, whose daughter died from a rare cancer. Kramer’s daughter, Maddie, was just 2 and a half years old at the time of her diagnosis.
“She was full of energy, she was spunky. She had curly hair. She loved to sing and dance. She loved to play,” Kramer told KSAT. “In the early days of her cancer journey, obviously they were very dark days. And that was my big concern is like, will she be Maddie again?”
In January 2018, Maddie died as a result of her cancer. Her family decided to give back “what Maddie gave them,” and created the nonprofit.
“We were very blessed. And she was able to continue to sing and dance and play for many moments during her eight-and-a-half-month battle with cancer,” Kramer said. “It was just a no brainer on what to do. We knew that a mission of bringing joy was so in line with what she did during her journey, that we knew that would be the mission and then it just went from there.”
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