Parents of children fighting cancer plead with public: ‘You gotta stay home’

Parents of children with cancer pleading for public to stay home

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - For those with compromised immune systems, it’s especially important they stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that includes children fighting cancer.

Callie Shaffer is one of them.

Callie’s relatives say she is battling stage four neuroblastoma. They also say the pandemic is a terrifying time, because doctors believe children fighting cancer are at higher risk of getting the coronavirus and facing complications.

“She overcomes so much that anybody should ever have to go through," Albree Shaffer, Callie’s mother, said.

The toddler just spent a week in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where, according to a hospital spokesperson, employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“You’re wearing a mask, but you’re still scared of just touching something, because what if somebody in here, and we know that there’s been workers that have had it, so it’s really scary," Albree said. "It’s really scary.”

The spokesperson also says they are doing everything they can to protect children, their families and staff members.

Callie, when in the hospital, has been restricted to her room.

“You have to get your temperature checked. You have to answer questions," Albree said. "You have to wear a dot on your badge so that they know that you have been checked. Anybody that comes in with a fever is already flagged, and everybody has to wear a mask. Everybody.”

The Shaffers have been preparing for a “Make-a-Wish” trip, which doctors had advised them to take as soon as possible.

Now Albree says those travel plans have been delayed.

“Can’t go to Disney with this virus going around right now," Tiffany Shaffer, Callie’s mother, said.

Callie’s parents say she’s resting at home for now, recovering from a fractured tibia, an injury she sustained because she is so fragile.

To protect her, her parents placed a sign on their front door, alerting people, like delivery drivers, that an immune compromised child is inside.

Although they are dealing with some hardships, the Shaffers say their main focus is on Callie’s health. In turn, they are urging people to take the pandemic seriously, so it does not cost a child, like Callie, her life.

“With childhood cancer, there’s that huge risk of the flu that could kill our kid," Albree said. "There’s a risk of a chance of the COVID-19 killing our kid. You guys gotta stay home.”

Callie is not alone in her fight. Other children are fighting cancer throughout the Tri-State, and many of them are facing similar struggles right now.

A Cincinnati Children’s spokesperson says they are continuing to monitor the pandemic and will make changes to their policies as needed to keep everyone safe.

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