Cali-before-and-after

On August 14, 2015, Dave Trepkowski’s world turned upside down when he heard the words no father should ever have to hear: Your daughter, Cali, has brain cancer. Six devastating words, and the fight to save his beautiful eight-year-old’s life began.

Fortunately for Cali, the recovery rate at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida surpasses the national average. Located in the heart of Fort Myers, the hospital is on a mission to deliver vital and lifesaving care for children and their families through the region. So far, Golisano Children’s Hospital has helped more than 90,000 people through its child advocacy programs.

Cali’s diagnosis and quickly progressing medulloblastoma meant immediate intensive intervention to target the cancer in her brain. Over the course of her treatment, Cali braved an 11-hour surgery, 30 sessions of radiation, nine rounds of chemotherapy and more than 24 blood transfusions.

“I look back at our family’s battle and realize that we were never alone. We have been fortunate and blessed with an amazing support group – from doctors, nurses, child life specialists, and other staff at Golisano Children’s Hospital, who cared for Cali as if she were their own precious little girl,” recalled Dave.

Now 13 years old, Cali shows no signs of the disease that ravaged her brain for two and a half years. She’s recently discovered a new passion for the arts, while she continues to channel her lifelong love of animals. When she grows up, Cali would like to be an anesthesiologist.

Currently, however, she has a different goal: to bring awareness to childhood cancer – and hope to families battling this horrific disease. “Looking back, Cali is thankful for the doctors, nurses, child life specialists, volunteers and donors at Golisano Children’s Hospital who impacted her journey,” said Dave. “Together, these wonderful people are saving the lives of the children of Southwest Florida.”

For families who need a little relief from the financial burden that intensive cancer treatments can cost, there’s support available from Barbara’s Friends, Golisano’s cancer fund. Barbara’s Friends serves kids with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders, ensuring that every child who needs critical oncology and pediatric services at Golisano Children’s Hospital can afford to stay close to home while still receiving world-class care. Learn more about Barbara’s Friends at BarbarasFriends.org.

“In our time of need, family, friends and people within our community were invaluable in their support. Besides Cali’s diagnosis, having to receive assistance from others was extremely difficult for me to handle – but it was necessary. With assistance, we could concentrate on caring for Cali, which lifted a strain off our backs,” explained Dave.

As September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Barbara’s Friends is hosting its annual Clips for Cancer fundraiser. Proceeds benefit the families who trust Golisano Children’s Hospital with their loved one’s life-saving care.

On Friday, Sept. 18, Cali will join Barbara’s Friends to participate in Clips for Cancer. In a special turn of events, Cali will be shaving the head of her own father, Dave! “My goal is to reach out to the community and help raise money for the patients and their families at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Please help support this cause,” said Dave.

Now, it’s time to give back. Please donate to Barbara’s Friends at https://justgiving.com/campaign/clips2020 to help families like Cali’s who are courageously battling childhood cancer.