Axel Penazola, was diagnosed with Germ Cell Tumor of the Brain when he was 12 years old. Alex is now cancer free and the face of TBCF’s 2020 Gold Ribbon Campaign.
Just imagine having a child with cancer during this COVID-19 crisis–a pandemic that is leading to job loss or insecurity, financial hardship, mounting health concerns, and an overworked and exhausted health care community.
COVID-19 is creating even greater challenges for local families battling childhood cancer. Many of these families have lost their jobs and are no longer able to buy food and clothing for their families, or pay rent or medical expenses, including for critical prescriptions. Several of these families have also had a family member contract COVID-19 as well, which is very concerning.
During this challenging time, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF) has been providing even more services for families, including money for rent assistance, grocery gift cards, additional emotional support groups with licensed therapists, virtual and in-person tutoring, meal and care package delivery, and virtual family fun events to keep their kids engaged. Community support has made it possible for TBCF to provide additional financial assistance to 31 local families who have been severely affected by the pandemic.
This includes the Penaloza Family from Santa Barbara:
When Axel was 11 years old, he started showing serious symptoms including a burning sensation in his eyes and the inability to look up. His condition deteriorated over the course of a weekend. Axel’s family took him to Cottage Hospital where he received an MRI, then was quickly transported to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Axel was diagnosed with a Germ Cell Tumor of the brain.
Axel endured months of chemotherapy, three brain surgeries, radiation, and spent a total of nine months at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Every two weeks, the Penazola family had to travel to LA from Santa Barbara for Axel’s treatment. Axel finished treatment in 2017 and is now thriving.
TBCF helped the Penazola Family during this time by providing Direct Financial Assistance, in person and now virtual Family Counseling Groups, Family Connection Events, Project Holiday items, Mother’s Spa Day, and Mother’s Day & Father’s Day deliveries. TBCF continues to be there for the Penazola Family during COVID-19.
“First of all, they helped us a lot financially; they helped us pay the rent a couple of times, helped with Christmas presents and provided amazing help through the support groups,” said Jessica, Axels mom. “It’s been very good for Axel to be able to go to those groups because he can speak freely and release things he can’t talk to us about. He really likes to go and so do we, as his parents.”
These days, as the face of TBCF’s 2020 Gold Ribbon Campaign, Axel continues to show sincere gratitude for winning his battle. To give back, he has written a letter to go out to all children in the hospitals fighting their battle with pediatric cancer.
“Dear All Children in the Hospital” ends with “Never, Never, Never, Give Up,” which became the 2020 Gold Ribbon Campaign slogan for TBCF, as they host their annual Gold Ribbon Campaign throughout the month of September to raise funds during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the annual in-person Gold Ribbon Luncheon at the Four Seasons Biltmore has been cancelled, which is a major source of funding for the nonprofit. This year, the Campaign is solely focused on raising funds and awareness for the organization and the families they serve.
Through donations and continued support, TBCF can help more families like the Penaloza family. To be a part of TBCF’s Gold Ribbon Campaign for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, please visit TBCF at: https://bit.ly/32t4YeM
TBCF advocates for families living in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties that have a child with cancer by providing financial, educational, and emotional support. For more information and to donate, please visit: https://bit.ly/32t4YeM