Teen With Cancer Starts Drive To Help Others

Olivia Gastaldo, 16, Raising Money To Help Fund Experimental Cancer Drug

A local teen is trying raise $10,000 to bring awareness to a disease she knows very well, as well as a possible treatment she said could save lives.

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Del Norte High School student Olivia Gastaldo, 16, has suffered from a rare form of cancer, called chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), for the past six years.

"I had leg pains, I couldn't walk," Olivia said. "I was just getting home from a trip from New York and I couldn't walk off the plane."

Currently, Olivia plays three sports and lives what she calls a fairly normal and healthy teenage life, despite the fact that she doesn't use chemotherapy to treat her cancer.

Instead, Olivia has been taking a drug called Gleevec, which she has called her "miracle pill."

Each pill costs more than $100, and Olivia said she takes five per day. Unfortunately, insurance only covers a small portion of the cost.

Luckily, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society helps fund part of the expensive drug treatment, which is why Olivia is trying to raise $10,000 for the organization.

"I'm going to be on the drug for my whole life," Olivia said. "Just thinking about what could have been is scary enough for me to want to help them."

In order to try and increase funding for the organization, Olivia made a video and showed it to her classmates during a recent school assembly.

In the video, Olivia and others urged 1,000 students to donate $10 each, which would help Olivia reach her $10,000 goal.

"Olivia's inspirational," Del Norte High School principal Greg Mizell said. "To have a young person like her that's as passionate as she is about the cause -- it made me a believer."

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