Local kids met during treatment for pediatric cancer: Now, both are battling it a second time

Local News

(WKBN) – Two local families have been dealing with pediatric cancer for a few years now. They rely on each other for strength.

Now, a benefit is happening this weekend to raise money and awareness.

Jessica: “Are you tough?”
Joey: “Mhmm.”
Jessica: “Are you brave?”
Joey: “Mhmm.”
Jessica: “Are you strong?”
Joey: “Mhmm, that’s why I’m like the Hulk.”
Jessica: “That’s why you’re like the Hulk.”

Joey Gaskell fighting cancer a second time.
Courtesy of Jessica Gaskell

Four-year-old Joey Gaskell and his mom Jessica Gaskell, of Austintown, reflected on what they have been going through the past few years. Joey was just 18 months when he was diagnosed with pre B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Then, toward the end of his initial treatment, things took a turn.

“Two and a half years of treatment and then we found out two weeks before that he relapsed. In a way, it was a blessing that we found out before he was done with treatment because it didn’t give the cancer an opportunity to grow much,” Jessica said.

While Joey was receiving treatment at Akron’s Children’s Hospital, he and his family met the Sabella family from Boardman, a family that is dealing with pediatric cancer as well.

Just like the Gaskells, it’s for the second time.

Nora Sabella fighting cancer a second time.
Courtesy of Amy Sabella

“We were almost done with that trial, which is about two years, and Nora was down for a routine scan and they found a very small lesion in her abdomen,” said Amy Sabella.

Seven-year-old Nora Sabella has been battling neuroblastoma for a few years now. Her mother Amy admires her daughter’s strength.

Amy’s goal is to get more people talking about pediatric cancer and to bring about more awareness.

“You know, nobody wants to talk about pediatric cancer. It’s scary. It’s something you never want to think could happen to you,” Amy said.

The families are looking forward to spreading awareness this weekend at an event that’s being put on by the local Relay for Life Team and the Ice House Inn in Austintown.

“It’s always so touching and amazing to see the community come together for a common purpose, and I’m so appreciative of the support that we’ve received from family and friends and community as a whole,” Jessica said.

The weekend event will feature live bands, comedians, food vendors, a Chinese auction, children’s activities like a dunk tank and bounce house and more.

It will run from noon to 9 p.m. and tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for children 12 and younger. There is no admission charge for children under 3.

Advance tickets are available at the Ice House Inn, 5516 W. Webb Road in Austintown, or by calling Rosa at 330-559-0465. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door the day of the event.

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