A Chula Vista teenager’s school project could help thousands of children whose parents are battling cancer. 14-year-old Sophia Epley created the booklet after both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer at the same time.
“It was kind of scary,” said Sophia.
“It was a rough year,” said her father, Mel.
Mel Epley was diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer. His wife had breast cancer.
“I couldn’t understand how first my wife would have to go through all this….I never thought it would happen to me,” he said.
Both survived but it took a toll on their children.
“A lot of the kids my age had never gone through anything like that or could understand what it was like to go through that,” said Sophia.
“I had failed to realize how much of an impact it was having on Vincent and Sophia,” said Mel about his daughter and her younger brother.
A school community service project helped Sophia focus her emotions. She created a booklet specifically for other kids whose parents are battling cancer.
“It starts with my story,” she said.
The booklet explains it’s okay to be emotional and how what their parents may be enduring.
“Even though their parents may not be their best right now they still love them. They still care about them,” explained the teenager who will attend Bonita Vista High School next year.
“I think that I can help a lot of kids,” she said.
Sophia raised $700 through donations from friends and family. She used the money to print the pamphlets and create gift baskets for kids. She’s working with families at Sharp Chula Vista’s Barnhart Cancer Center. Sophia said she still needs more donations. She said anyone interested in helping can email her at ParentalCancer@hotmail.com or mail donations directly to Sophia Epley, 374 East H. Street, Suite A 248, Chula Vista, CA 91910.
“It’s really helpful to know someone is thinking about you and it may act as a distraction in the hard time,” she said.