Lafayette Student Loses Battle With Cancer, Fellow Students Raising Money In Her Memory
This story is being shared with us from our sister station in Lafayette, NewsRadio KPEL. If you've ever lost a family member to cancer, especially a child, we ask you to read on...
Imagine you are just a little girl, and you just want to live a normal life, but you have to fight Osteosarcoma.
You might not even know that word, but 8th grader Vania Leann Caliste sure did. That is the name of the cancer she worked so hard to beat. While other kids were worried about maybe the latest popular song or a weekend sleep-over, this little girl was worrying about biopsies, surgery and bone scans. Her fight was courageous, and her principal and fellow students are showing this week how they will remember little Vania.
Caliste wrote on her Caring Bridges dot org site ( a site for her to write about her journey and a way for people to keep up with her) that,
"I was diagnosed 5/20/11 Osteosarcoma that is a bone cancer. I was very mad and sad. It sucks not being able to do all of the things that I used to do. I started my chemo and will have surgery in August and then more chemo to kill the rest of the bad cells. My journey was a long one. I had to first do 40 weeks of chemo before my surgery. It made hair fall out soon as I started. My dad was more nervous than me when he had to cut it off. I was glad because I'm not that into hair anyway. So as I got close to the end of my chemo my tumor didn't shrink it got bigger. So my surgery came and a week later my mom found out the tumor grew and only 40% of it was dead the other 60% was still living. So I had to another 40 weeks of chemo after surgery. "
Caliste passed away, and her funeral has been set for this Saturday April 27th in Violet. A little girl with a huge heart, a beautiful smile and the courage of a lion.
She was on homebound schooling for 6th and 7th grades, but was overjoyed when she was able to begin the 2012-2013 school year in the 8th grade at L.J. Alleman. Principal Kathy Aloisio says the "Schools of Choice" student loved going to school. Her mom and dad had to make countless trips to New Orleans for her chemotherapy until she was able to receive it here in Lafayette. Vania's family has had plenty of challenges in the last several years, as they lost their home in Katrina, were taken in in Las Vegas for a brief time and then started a new life here in Lafayette.
Caliste received so much love from doctors, nurses and Miles Perret Cancer Services. She wrote,
" I like Ms. Donna too at Miles Perret. I got to ride in the Christmas parade and get stuff for Christmas from there too. Ms. Donna also took to a hockey game we had sooooo much fun! I will be extra happy when all of this is over and I don't have to do anymore chemo ever and I hope it stays that way."
Aloisio says she was a wonderful, beautiful child who fought hard and was an inspiration to students at her school. Now those students are working to collect money in her name to be donated to the American Cancer Society.
On Friday April 19th students at L.J. Alleman wore purple shirts to school, Caliste's favorite color, to show their support for her and her family. The young students brought their change for milk jugs, the money raised to be donated in her name to the American Cancer Society. This week, Prinicpal Aloisio says each day through Thursday at their home room classes, students can bring their change in to contribute. At the end of the week, all the money will be donated to ACS in her name.
Aloisio says the kids, "had lots of questions" about the death of their friend. She says they wanted to do something. They wanted to share her "spirit of giving". The kids are going to raise money for their friend Vania this week. Principal Aloisio says if someone would like to donate some change, they can do so by calling the school for more information at 521-7850.