On September 19, 2011 I heard the four words any parent dreads to hear, "Your child has cancer". Sydney, 15 at the time, was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma. I quickly educated myself and learned that Ewing's is the rarest of childhood cancers with about 200 cases a year diagnosed in the United States. I also learned that cancer is the #1 killer of children in the United States. Sydney's tumor was located in her pelvic region where the tumor had wrapped itself around her sciatic nerve. Because of the location of the tumor, surgery was not an option. Sydney was in for the harshest regimens of chemotherapy of any cancer. When you have a child stricken by a life threatening disease it turns your family life upside down in every aspect. As a parent you cry every day.
I watched helplessly as the chemotherapy ravaged her body. Midway through her treatment, Sydney was required to undergo radiation treatment contemporaneous with her chemotherapy. She received Proton B radiation therapy at Shand's Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. It was here that Sydney's outlook and attitude changed. She met and interacted with other children with cancer. Unfortunately, some of the friends she made are no longer with us. In mid-April, 2012 we were advised after repeat scans that the tumor was gone. She was required to finish her chemotherapy protocol and was declared cancer free on June 23, 2012.
SIDES (Sydney's Incredible Defeat of Ewing's Sarcoma) was created by local business people a week after Sydney's diagnosis with an emphasis on assisting children and families in need affected by Ewing's Sarcoma. Shortly thereafter, SIDES developed a working relationship withe The Hunstman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. There are only four Ewing's Sarcoma labs in the United States. Huntsman is headed by Dr. Stephen Lessnick, possibly the world's foremost expert on Ewing's Sarcoma. We have established and funded the SIDES scholar for Ewing's Sarcoma research and are very pleased with the results of their work. It is our goal continue to sponsor a SIDES scholar to help research and hopefully find a cure for this disease as quickly as possible. With the continued generosity of people like you, SIDES will be able to do this.
After being declared cancer free, Sydney, immediately dove head first into the SIDES campaign of spreading awareness about pediatric cancer and assisting other children and families. Sydney arranged for the donation and installation of 30 Hunter ceiling fans for the Ronald McDonald House in Jacksonville, Florida which were dedicated in memory of her best buddy, three year old Raegan Whaley. Sydney was asked to represent The Make-A-Wish Foundation at the national convention of The Learning Experience where she spoke in front of 350 people and helped raise $350,000.00. She was then asked to be the featured wish child at the 2012 South Florida Make-A-Wish ball where she spoke in front of 800 people and helped raise $1,600,00.00. Sydney was elected Jr. Captan of the Winterfest Boat Parade where she represented SIDES on the Carrie B. Toys were delivered this Christmas season to The Chris Evert Children's Hospital. Sydney is doing volunteer work at The Ronald McDonald House.
I have learned a great deal this past year. Most importantly, these young children suffering from cancer are amazing individuals who are true warriors. Since taking over as chair, SIDES has committed it's focus to spread awareness and assist children and families affected not only by Ewing's Sarcoma but all pediatric cancers. Help us help them make this difficult time a little easier.
David Lister - Chairman