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Cancer-stricken eight-year-old needs community's help

Lorraine Graves   Feb-09-2018

Whiteside Elementary's Karalyn Giron-Plante, 8, (joined by her mom, sister and brother) is in the fight for her life after a cancerous tumour was removed from her brain last month.

Photo by Chung Chow

The parents of a young Richmond girl are reaching out to the community for a helping hand.

Karalyn Giron-Plante, 8, a James Whiteside elementary Grade 3 student, was recently diagnosed with a rare brain tumour. In early January, surgeons at B.C. Children’s Hospital removed all they could of this potentially lethal tumour that had caused little Kara blinding headaches amongst a myriad of confusing symptoms.



Now, Seattle offers hope of destroying the rest of the cancerous cells using leading-edge treatment with proton therapy. But her parents, Juan and Katelyn, need help to cover expenses both in the U.S. as well as back here in Richmond for things like out-of-school care for Kara’s siblings.

“She’s really bounced back to her normal everyday self (following the surgery),” Katelyn told The Richmond Sentinel Sunday.

Ependymomas are usually tumours arising from the cells that line the brain’s fluid-filled cavities. When they are “anaplastic,” these brain tumours can be associated with less favourable outcomes.

For that reason the family hopes to use all possible methods for mopping up any tumour cells still lurking in Karalyn’s brain after surgery.

Proton therapy is not new. International research centre TRIUMF on the University of B.C. campus, pioneered world-leading cancer treatmentswith pion and proton beam therapies. Unfortunately, other than treating a rare type of eye tumour, the nuclear research facility is not set up to do regular cancer treatments.

It is not a hospital, so while B.C. has done the early scientific work in new beam therapies, the people of B.C. look south for the use of those discoveries in proton beam therapy.

That is why Kara and her family must journey south of the border and why they need your help today so she can have this life-prolonging therapy in Seattle.

Katelyn said her family is new to Richmond, having moved here less than a year ago, but they’ve been welcomed with open arms.

“It’s been incredible, the outpouring from schools, parents, teachers, classmates. They have gone above and beyond. There’s not enough thank-yous.”

The outpouring has “made this difficult time a little bit easier,” she said.

The proton therapy treatment in Seattle is planned for later this month, but first Kara must undergo a genetic test. If she carries a specific gene, then the proton therapy treatment won’t help her. If that happens, the family will need to consider alternative therapies.

In the event the U.S. trip is cancelled, Katelyn would like to use the funds for alternative medicines. In the event Kara is miraculously cured, then Katelyn plans to earmark the funds to cancer research.

Kara’s brain tumour is a very aggressive variety, and doctors have said the likelihood of it growing back is very high.

To donate, see the family’s fundraising page:

The goal is $18,000 to cover expenses for the two months of Karalyn’s treatment, when her mom will be at her side and unable to work.

By Wednesday morning, more than $9,700 had been raised.

A number of fundraising events have already been organized including a Hot Chocolate and Muffin sale for $2 on Friday, Feb. 16 at James Whiteside Elementary, with proceeds to Kara’s YouCaring Fund

Local organizations have also stepped forward to help.

Richmond Martial Arts has offered to help with after-school care, while hot lunches will be provided by Libby’s Kitchen.

Sweet Savoury Pastries, Broadmoor Bakery and volunteers from McRoberts Secondary combined to sell 52 special bags of cookies for $10 each.

Other community fundraisers are being planned in the coming weeks, with updates on dates/times/locations available on Whiteside Elementary PAC’s Facebook page.

—with files from Martin van den Hemel

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