By Julian Giacobbe, CHOC Children’s supporter
My niece Isabella will be 12 in a couple of months. There will be the mandatory cake and candles, I’m sure, along with family, food, noise, the usual. We will look at those family photos later, and we will all know that there are dozens of people missing from every single picture ― all the doctors and nurses at CHOC who are responsible for our Isabella turning 12 that day ― just like they had a hand in her turning 11 the year before, and 10 before that, and… you get the idea.
As a toddler, Isabella was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer. Today she’s cancer-free. But it wasn’t an easy road in between. For two seemingly unending years, her childhood was spent at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange. There were many exams, all kinds of tests, several surgeries, and then some more exams. Even after leaving her hospital room for the last time and finally going back home, there were follow-up visits to CHOC multiple times a week for another year and a half. Throughout it all, it was those fantastic doctors and nurses at CHOC that kept Isabella going, figuratively and literally.
We knew even in the midst of her treatment that this was a unique, life-changing event for our family. I have so much respect for the staff at CHOC who does amazing work every single day for hundreds of children and their families.
I wanted to give back to CHOC to say thank you for everything they did for my niece. I joined Moustaches for Kids OC (M4KOC), a national community of mustache growers who make up local chapters and raise money for a children’s charity in their area. For 30 days, the chapter’s growers work tirelessly to grow and display mustaches. When asked, “What’s with the stache?” it’s an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause.
This is not just another fundraising effort for me. It’s very personal. My family owes CHOC more than we could ever pay back. When Isabella gives the camera the inevitable eye roll that most 12-year old girls would on their birthday, we know who to thank.