All Sophia Espiritu wanted for her 10th birthday was to help children who, like she, are undergoing treatment at Stony Brook Cancer Center.
Sophia, of Holbrook, has Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a rare form of cancer believed to affect one in 200,000 children, according to the Histiocytosis Association. After receiving her monthly chemotherapy treatment on Wednesday, Dec. 5, her birthday, Sophia, a fourth-grader at Tamarac Elementary School in Holtsville, handed out chemotherapy port shirts purchased with nearly $13,000 she raised in November with the help of her school.
Since Sophia began receiving treatment in March, she has worn the ComfyChemo port shirt, with front zippers that allow easy access to the installed mediport in her chest. “It’s comfortable and it takes less time and less effort for changing and putting your shirt back on,” Sophia says.
Sophia noticed that none of the other children receiving treatment wore a shirt like hers. So she decided to start a fundraiser to raise money to purchase shirts for them.
She made a nearly three-minute video in which she spoke of her condition and discussed the goal of her fundraiser, which is now over. The video, which requested donations of $18 to purchase a shirt, was shared on social media.
In about three weeks, Sophia raised $12,812, which covers more than 700 shirts.
Sophia wore her shirt when she arrived Wednesday at Stony Brook for chemotherapy treatment.
Mother Melody Espiritu, a physical therapist, says Sophia’s tumor has shrunk by 93 percent and that she will be finished with chemotherapy treatment in June. “She is an inspiration to all of us for her bravery, her strong faith and her selflessness,” she says.