For Oscar: Friends boost morale for ailing classmate

Freshman Jacob F. was pretty surprised when he heard that his friend, freshman Oscar G., was diagnosed with leukemia, the cancer of the white blood cells.

“It was just, ‘Wow!’ [that] a guy who was joking around in class all day would have that condition,” Jacob said. “I guess it was more like shock.”

Oscar was 9 years old when he was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2006. He went into remission afterward, and by 2008, was back on his feet. But four years later, after a visit to the doctor’s and a couple of tests, Oscar was diagnosed with a return of the leukemia.The cancer sent him into the home-bound program.He has been hospitalized for part of the time since his relapse.

Nurse Carol W. said Oscar’s treatment will keep him home and away from his friends. 

“The treatment lasts for 106 weeks; they’re trying different types of chemotherapy,” she said. “[And] he’s not able to be around others because [the chemotherapy] lowers the immune system. If someone comes to school with a cold, it could be life-threatening.”

The shock felt by his friends and teachers quickly changed to a desire to help.

“We have a couple of people visit him every other day or so. We try to keep him calm, keep him positive [and] make him better so he can come back to us; come back to school,” freshman Jimmy D. said.

“I go visit him. I tell him that everything’s going to be cool,” Jacob said. “I don’t act awkward to show him [that] he’s still here. Nobody changed because he left.”

Oscar’s fellow Orchestra members have also played a part in his support system, according to Jimmy.

“Ms. [Charlotte] King suggested we make a home video [to tell] him to stay calm and get better,” he said. “I want to show that we all care for him so he has a peace of mind.”

 Along with Orchestra, Cadre Kerr also provided support for Oscar by fundraising on January 28 at Moon Over Buffalo’s last showing. Freshman Danyal S. and sophomore Jackie C. proposed the idea to theater sponsor Julie R., who in turn agreed to help.

“We tried to get a fundraiser to purchase something to pass the time and the rest of the money will go to cancer research in his name,” Danyal said. “It was originally Jackie’s idea to do something and we both talked about it and proposed it to Cadre Kerr, and Ms. Ryan agreed to help. We raised just that night $170.”

Ryan wants to make sure Oscar feels like a part of the Kerr family.

“We at Cadre Kerr are raising money for Oscar because he will not be coming to school for 106 weeks…we want him to feel like he’s still a part of a family, and we here at Kerr no matter how long he’s been here, are his family for the next four years,” she said. “We’re trying to raise money to get him a PSP and a Kindle [so] he has something to hold in his hands while he’s sitting in chemotherapy.”

Theatre students are also collecting PSP games to be sure that Oscar has plenty of entertainment available.

Ryan’s goal is to ensure that Oscar stays comfortable while undergoing chemotherapy, and that the fundraiser will also contribute in helping cancer research.

“We love him to death. My students have come to me and asked me to do something special for him, and I always give to those who [are] nice enough to give to others,” Ryan said. “So that’s our goal: to raise a little bit of money to try to help him, and any extra money that we raise will go straight to Texas Children’s Cancer Research.”

Oscar’s friends and teachers hope that their consolidation will make sure Oscar feels better and recovers soon.

“[The support] makes him feel better,” Jacob said. “When I visited him, he didn’t seem gloomy or awkward; he’s still the same old Oscar. If we didn’t visit him, he’d feel lonelier without a group of people who care about him.”