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November: Nasir Blakey, 11th grader at Mastery Charter Pickett, Philadelphia, PA

This teenage boy loves to play sports, especially basketball, football and baseball. He also loves to cut hair! Nasir always has a smile on his face even when he is not feeling well. His mom describes him as an optimist. Nasir tries to do everything he is supposed to, appreciates everyone and is so polite. He is surrounded by a wonderful team of people that care for him and rally around him, including two brothers, one sister and his whole school! Nasir was spotlighted on the CBS segment, Brotherly Love titled “Cancer Who”.

Nasir’s cancer was discovered through an ultrasound of his stomach. He was diagnosed on February 17, 2016 with a desmoid tumor. His treatment plan has consisted of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and more. There have been too many days and nights spent in the hospital so Nasir is looking forward to spending time with family and dreams of being a football player. Nasir lives by the golden rule treat people the way you want to be treated.

Information provided by his mother, Lakisha Blakey.

October: Kathleen McElwee, President, MW Young Professionals

Kathy is a wife, mom, daughter, sister, niece, and doctor! She was born in Philadelphia, but currently lives in Paoli with her husband and (almost) 3-year-old daughter, Victoria. They love spending time together outdoors, swimming, and traveling. Kathy has combined her love of problem solving, penchant for detail, and interest in travel, to build her career. For the past 6 years, Kathy has worked as an Infectious Disease Physician in the Reading Health System. Her interests include infections of the immunocompromised and population health.

Some of these interests may have been sparked by childhood memories of her father, Michael, who passed away from Leukemia and is also the namesake of Michael’s Way. Her father found joy in his family, serving his country as a Marine, and was known for his love of dancing. Kathy is proud to help further this mission in his honor and represent her family as the President of the Young Professionals Board.

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light” –Aristotle

September: Jesslie Mejia, 4th grader at Marie G Davis Elementary School, Charlotte, NC

Jesslie Mejia, 4th grader at Marie G. Davis Elementary School, Charlotte, NC

Jesslie is a helpful older sister to her brother, Jimmy. She likes animals, dogs especially, swimming, dancing and playing with slime. Jesslie is going to celebrate her 10th birthday in October and will hopefully be spending that time with family and friends.

The past couple months have been a little scary for Jesslie and her family. She was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia) on August 3, 2017. Jesslie was maintaining a high fever which they thought was a virus. After getting bloodwork done it was confirmed that she had cancer and she has spent the past month receiving chemotherapy at Levine Children’s Hospital. Jesslie has aspirations of being a Doctor, Teacher or Veterinarian. She wants people to know that sometimes she’s scared and sometimes she’s brave.

Information provided by her mother, Edit Maldonado.


August: Isabella Harry, 2 years old, Philadelphia, PA

“Bella” is an amazing toddler girl who loves to steal her mom’s phone and watch YouTube videos and dance. When you ask her a question, she simply shrugs her shoulders and says “I don’t know” with some sass. Isabella is smart. She knows the names of all her nurses and social workers.

Isabella spends a lot of time with those nurses right now. She has been an oncology patient at St. Christopher’s for almost a year. On October 11, 2016, Isabella was diagnosed with ALL. She had a spot on her head that grew into a bump and swollen lymph nodes on the back of her neck. Her mother took her to Einstein and they sent her to St. Christopher’s for consults, surgery and chemotherapy.

Her family wishes for Bella to be herself, chase her dreams and be a leader.

Information provided by her mother, Tameika Harry.


July: Sarah Caplan, 7th grader at The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA

Sarah recently celebrated her Bat Mitzvah and wanted to mark this occasion by giving back.  She is a smart 13 year old who likes to play squash, hang with friends and paint. But Sarah also knows how lucky she is to have her health.

For her mitzvah project she chose to help out a charity that is very close to her heart and we are lucky enough to be that charity! Sarah is a close family friend to Chris McElwee, our Founder. Her mitzvah project was very important to her and she is inspired by the patients and families who find the strength and courage to fight back against cancer. Sarah is very grateful to have a life where she can donate and get involved. In lieu of gifts, she asked her friends and family to donate to Michael’s Way. We received an outstanding amount of donations which will go to help many families. 

Sarah also helped organize a carnival for the Oncology patients at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. On Wednesday, June 7th we provided food, entertainment and gifts for the kids. This is a great distraction from their normal routine at the clinic. In Sarah’s words, “being generous is the most important characteristic to have. Everyone comes on hard times at one point in their lives and if we don’t help each other, no one will be there to help us”.

Information provided by her mother, Ellen Caplan.


June: Charlize Nunez Rivera, 6th grader at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School, Philadelphia, PA

Charlize is a pre-teen who loves animals, especially dogs. She can look at a picture and tell you the breed. She loves watching videos on youtube and like most girls, she loves to shop. Her favorite stores are Old Navy and Target. Charlize is lucky enough to have three brothers and one baby sister who she adores.

In March of 2016, Charlize was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. She has cancer in her leg and arm but you would never know it! She is a brave girl with a positive attitude. St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children diagnosed and treats her cancer. Charlize dresses to impress when she goes to clinic. Cancer will not get in the way of her fashion. Her family means everything to her and they are going to help her celebrate her 12th birthday this month!

Information provided by her mother, Angelica Rivera.


May: Laynee Shiann, Kindergartner at WCK Walls School, Pitman, NJ

Creative, rambunctious and social butterfly are three ways to describe our Spotlight. Laynee loves to try new things, make friends and dance. She enjoys watching The Phillies with her family and playing Frisbee outside.

Miss Laynee has been considered cancer free for about 3 months now. But, she has battled Embryonic Vaginal Rhabdomyosarcoma for most of her life. At the young age of 22 months old, Laynee started to have blood appear in her diaper. After three separate trips to the local hospital with no answers, she visited St. Christopher’s where they spotted her tumor through an ultrasound. She went through 43 weeks of chemotherapy and surgery. Unfortunately, that was not the end of Laynee’s fight. The cancer came back in November of 2015 (age 4) and this time she went through 54 weeks of chemotherapy, radiation and another surgery. The road to remission has not been easy but Laynee knows that she is able to do anything she sets her mind to! 

You can show your support for Laynee HERE.

Information provided by her mother, Heather Nelson.

April: Ka’lon White, 6 yrs old from Matthews, NC

This lovable little boy has a spunky personality and is not afraid to speak his mind. He loves to play with his toys like monster trucks, legos and anything Star Wars. These are great distractions while spending time at Levine Children’s Hospital located in Charlotte, NC.

Just a few months ago, Ka’lon’s mother noticed lumps on his neck. Their pediatrician referred them to an ENT who prescribed blood work and a CT scan. The tests showed his white blood cells count to be over 600,000 and he was immediately admitted. “KK” is diagnosed with T-cell leukemia and undergoing a chemotherapy regiment that requires him to take chemo by IV through a port in his chest, intrathecally into his spinal fluid via lumbar punctures, by injections as well as orally. His mother hopes that he has a fulfilled life and all of his dreams come true.

Information provided by his mother, Jessica Romacho.

March: Stephanie Fooks-Parker, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program (BMT) Social Worker at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Stephanie, a Philly native, is a loving wife of 25 years to her husband, M. Bart, and also proud mama to her 16 year old son, Harrison. She enjoys traveling with her family to Florida and most recently Quebec City. When she is not working, she loves to read and bike ride. Stephanie is a compassionate, empathetic and inclusive person who is quite the problem solver. These are wonderful characteristics to have as a social worker.

For 25 years, Stephanie has continued to be dedicated to the field of oncology social work. It is her job to provide supportive counseling, education and resources to families and children, specifically those undergoing bone marrow/stem cell transplant. Stephanie loves meeting and connecting with each family. Her job can be tough so it has taught her to not sweat the small stuff and be grateful for what you have.

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child” –Forest E. Witcraft


February: Syrianna Negron, 9 month old, Philadelphia, PA

Baby Syrianna is always happy, playful and smiling. She is a beautiful little girl who lights up the room when she dances to music and tries to walk. Syrianna continues to smile even though at the young age of three months old, she was diagnosed with Optic Glioma.

When Syrianna was just one month old, her mother noticed that her eyes were constantly shaking. After taking her to the pediatrician, they were sent to a Neurologist at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. They ordered all kinds of tests on Syrianna but it was the MRI that showed a tumor in the back of her eyes. In July of 2016, she was diagnosed with Optic Glioma. She began treatment right away which consists of weekly chemotherapy and MRI’s every three months. Her next MRI is on February 8th and we are hopeful that the tumor continues to shrink. Her mother wishes for her baby to grow physically, mentally and emotionally. Syrianna is so brave and an inspiration to us all!

Information provided by her mother, Michelle Placencia.