Young Survivors Celebrate Life!

Be Proud Foundation Raisa Chernin - Ceremony for Rachel Rodin 2010
Raisa Chernina, President and Founder of Be Proud pictured with Anna, Rachel and Elvira Rodin (Photo courtesy of Antonina Kapchonava)

On Thursday, July 1, 2010, the Be Proud Foundation, headed by Raisa Chernina, honored two young leukemia survivors: 9-year-old Rachel Rodin and 2-year-old Jack Rubin.

The event, held at New York Steakhouse (2007 Emmons Ave) was called Celebrating Lives and celebrate life is exactly what the honorees, attendees, and speakers did!

Although “The Rock” (Jack’s nickname) and his family were unable to make it to the event, a video set to the tune of — what else, but — the Rocky theme was shown with the now healthy toddler playing, jumping, and preparing for his life as a sports star. But, a star is what Jack was from the moment he was born. When he was just a few months old, he was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell  Histiocytosis (LCH, a.k.a. Histiocytosis X).

With the help of Be Proud and other organizations, Jack’s family was able to access the resources he needed to get a bone marrow transplant. Yesterday’s video may not be uploaded, yet, into YouTube, but you can see Jack “The Rock’s” before and after videos with hospital tubes, then fully recovered and celebrating life in some other recently posted videos.

In another picture of health (see above) is Rachel Rodin. According to her mother, Elvira, Rachel was first diagnosed with leukemia when she was 3 years old. After the first set of treatments, the blood disorder reappeared. Her doctors said that she would need a complete blood marrow replacement, and advised her family that a suitable match would likely come from someone of Eastern European descent.

Rachel’s family headed out to Brighton Beach with announcements calling out for possible blood match donors to be tested, but came home feeling despondent. Mrs. Rodin said that it was very difficult to see that many flyers handed out were thrown onto the ground and heartbreaking to see”the face of your child being stepped on.”

That was when Raisa Chernina stepped into their life, and offered to do whatever she could. She called a press conference to bring the message out to the community and draw them in for blood match drives. Although, a sufficient blood match was not found in time to treat the Rachel’s progressing leukemia, Raisa’s parents were relieved to find out that stem cells could be used. Mrs. Rodin counts her family “lucky” to have met Raisa Chernina and thanks her for all of the work she has done to help her daughter.

Sweet and thriving Rachel, who received gifts from Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus and TADA! Youth Theatre, said, “I’m feeling very, very happy.”  Although Rachel spent much time in the hospital, she was still required to hand in her school assignments, but said they were “easy”. Still, we’re sure that Rachel could use that long-awaited vacation abroad she’s going on soon to get some rest and relaxation. When the family comes back home, it’s straight to Coney Island and the circus to celebrate life as a survivor!