An aggressive and untreatable form of cancer took Sevanah Simmons when she was just six years old, so a local real estate company is trying to do what it can to help stop the deadly disease from taking other children.
DIPG, which is short for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, is an inoperable and aggressive brain tumour with a zero per cent survival rate that has featured no advances in treatment options in more than 50 years.
“Neil Armstrong’s daughter, Muffie, actually passed away from it in 1962, and essentially the treatment is still the same,” Sevanah’s mom, Angelina, says. “It’s just palliative care and radiation. Right now there is no cure, not even one on the horizon.”
The fact that awareness, treatment and prognosis have barely changed in more than half a century shows just how much work there is to do. When David Harper of 2 Percent Realty Okanagan learned that his daughter’s teacher—Angelina—had lost her daughter to DIPG and he had never heard of the cancer, he decided to act.
A movie night was held last fall that raised $1,200, and early next month his real estate group will host the 2 Percent Realty Okaganan Comedy Night in support of the Sick Kids Foundation. Comedians John Cullen, Ivan Decker and Myles Anderson will perform at the show, which will be held at 7 p.m. on April 1 at Kelowna Community Theatre.
“As a father of two little girls myself, I found myself thinking: What would I do?” Harper said. “I didn’t even know DIPG existed. After learning of the Simmons’ story, we decided as a group at 2 Percent Realty to try to do our little part to help raise awareness and some money to help.
“We’re hoping this comedy night not only helps the Simmons family raise funds in Sevanah’s memory but also hopefully helps other families suffering with DIPG as well.”
Sevanah was diagnosed with DIPG on April 1, 2015, and she died five months later, on Sept. 4, in her parents’ arms. Before she passed, Sevanah said, “When I get better, mommy, we can help other kids with DIPG!”
There is a foundation in Sevanah’s name, and her mission continues.
Tickets for the show can be purchased here.
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