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A pink welcome for Lynette

By Miriam G. Mazliach

June 3, 2011

Students attending Oliveira Elementary School on the morning of May 23 gathered on the school grounds, for what they assumed was a routine fire drill. But instead, visions of a pink-haired principal and school secretary, among others, were there to greet them along with a special guest, one of their own--Lynette Santos.

Tri-City Voice readers first learned about young Lynette Santos and her brave fight against Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), in our February 8, 2011 issue. First diagnosed in May 2008, at the age of five, Lynette began a round of chemotherapy, steroid treatments, and hospital stays, resulting in hair loss as well as many other complications. After returning to school in 2010, she suffered a relapse, underwent another round of chemotherapy and recently received a bone marrow transplant, with her younger sister Liselle as the donor. Lynette spent over 100 days recuperating at Ronald McDonald House at Stanford Children’s Hospital.

Noemi Santos, Lynette’s mother explains, “Now she has 100 percent donor cells and the leukemia cells are gone; so, she’s in remission. In July, Lynette will go in for her six month bone marrow check to see if everything is working as hoped. If she’s o.k., they’ll remove her restrictions.”

What that means, is that hopefully Lynette can resume school and be able to interact with her classmates again.

With Lynette’s current lowered resistance, making her more susceptible to germs, she had to keep a safe distance from the other students during her visit to Oliveira Elementary. But, Lynette seemed happy enough to wave to all the students, teachers and parents gathered, who in turn were thrilled to see her doing so well.

The surprise visit had been the culmination of the efforts of the school’s staff and parents who had first created an “All Eagles for Lynette” fundraiser, to help ease Noemi and Lyndon Santos’ financial burden caused by the medical crisis. The community stepped up and generously gave over $6,000 to assist the family. This was soon followed by the “Pennies for Patients” school fundraiser in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Principal Anderson had challenged the students, saying she would color her hair pink if they raised $1,000. The school and community exceeded her expectations by raising over $3,000 for the charity.

And, so, at the welcoming event for Lynette, who sported a very stylish pink hat, there were many in addition to Principal Anderson and school secretary Kathy Kimberlin, who had dyed their hair a shocking shade of pink. They were all there in a communal gesture of compassion and friendship.

“We are very thankful to the school and the Tri-city community for their overwhelming support,” said Noemi Santos.

Principal Anderson ended the gathering by reading aloud the poem, “Like Ripples in a Pond,” by Laurie Eytel:

We thank you for all the great things you do.
Large and small, they all have meaning to the families you help and to us.
One act can make all the difference.
Like ripples in a pond --kindness spreads outward, reaching and touching others and can change a life forever.
The smiling faces we see say it all…Thank you…you are our stars!

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