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Cy-Fair high school raises funds and awareness for childhood cancers

September 30, 2018

High school sophomore Sophia Anagnostou kept up with the cheer squad as they pumped up other Cypress Woods High School students on Friday to help raise awareness for childhood cancers.

After being cleared of leukemia in 2017, Anagnostou said her journey to wellness was rough and said awareness could be a step in helping other children get better treatment.

“I had harsh chemo treatments and spinal taps. It was a very rough journey for me. I experienced many life-threatening infections that weren’t supposed to happen,” she said.

After experiencing flu symptoms, loss of breath and constant fatigue, Anagnostou was finally diagnosed with cancer.

Her treatments included weekly chemotherapy infusions and each session could last 30 minutes to all day in a clinic.

She couldn’t finish sixth grade in school and was unable to attend classes during seventh grade.

Gradually, she lost her hair and shed pounds, eventually weighing as little as 63 pounds.

The other side effects included organ failure and a collapsed lung.

Her mother, Tara Anagnostou, said the treatments were a fearful journey because they were just as bad as the disease at certain times.

“Those treatments are so old that they’ve got harsh side effects. They’ve got detrimental side effects even later in life, so we don’t quite know what’s going to affect her right now. It’s kind of bittersweet because they’re putting medicine into her to kill the cancer, but killing all of the good things,” she said.

To help raise awareness of cancer in children, Tara Anagnostou has been involved in Cypress Strong, which is a group of families in Cypress whose children have been diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma.

According to the American Cancer Society, the rate of childhood cancer has been increasing slightly in recently years and more than 10,000 children under 15 are expected to be diagnosed in 2018.

Tara Anagnostou said that as more children are affected, raising awareness and getting federal funding for healthcare and better treatments with less serious side effects is important.

Cheer coach LaManda Singletary helped raise funds all week by selling wrist bands to students and organizing the pep rally.

She learned about Anagnostou’s struggle with cancer and reached out to Tara Anagnostou to help.

In all, the weeklong effort raised, $2,300 and was presented to Cypress Strong.

September is childhood cancer awareness month and gold is the cause’s designated color. Singletary said the awareness campaign will continue into the future.

“I feel like this will be a tradition for Cy-Woods. We will go gold one week every year in September now,” she said.

mayra.cruz@chron.com

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