She “kicked cancer’s ass,” and now her family is helping people get the right footwear so they can help other kids kick it too.
Naomi Lendvay was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in her abdomen when she was six years old in 2015. Just over a year later, she was given 14 months to live.
She and her parents went through the horrors of a combined 89 weeks of treatment, going through 204 bags of chemotherapy, 12 blood transfusion, 28 rounds of radiation and two surgeries.
Now Naomi is 10 years old, and she’s lived with no sign of disease for 18 months.
But the fight against childhood cancer hasn’t ended for the Lendvay family.
They’re now trying to raise money and awareness for the disease, to help the approximately 60 children who are diagnosed with cancer in Saskatchewan each year.
Their latest initiative is a pair of socks featuring blue, pink and gold ribbons and a strong message on the bottom of the foot: “F-bomb cancer” or the same message, with the referred-to expletive instead — the “ck” of which are represented by a sideways ribbon.
The message stems from Naomi’s response as an eight-year-old when her oncologist asked how she felt about cancer — the disease she had dealt with for two years at that point.
“She says, ‘f-bomb cancer,'” her mom Vanessa told 650 CKOM.
The doctor, a recent immigrant to Canada, didn’t understand the slang term.
“So then she spelt it out for him, and actually it was quite a memorable moment … it spoke volumes about how she felt about her beast,” Vanessa said.
“It was a moment of laughter, and a moment of horror.”
Naomi’s mom decided the moment needed to be commemorated, and put to good use. So they designed a sock that could be sold to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.
Vanessa decided on a sock because that way people could hide the cuss word on the soles of their feet, if they wanted to.
Naomi got involved, tracing her own foot and beginning to draw some designs. The pair worked to include the blue ribbon for men, pink ribbon for women and yellow ribbon for children.
Vanessa said the goal was to create a conversation piece.
“We call them the ‘cancer does not discriminate’ sock,” she said.
“Because we just don’t include kids in the cancer conversation very much.”
The Lendvay family has already sold over 3,000 pairs of the socks with the help of Al Anderson’s Source for Sports, with all money going to pediatric cancer research.
Combined with their annual Team Naomi golf tournament, over $200,000 has been raised for the cause so far.
‘Awareness is the key’
Vanessa Lendvay said the fundraising is crucial, because the money helps expand research into pediatric cancer that has been sorely lacking.
“Nobody likes to talk about the fact that there has only been six new treatments developed in 40 years,” she said.
“Nobody likes to talk about the toxics of the treatments used to treat Naomi. She will have lifelong side effects forever, but she’s alive so I’ll take it. We have her.”
The family is motivated to fund research of new treatment methods, because it was one of those methods that seems to have cured Naomi.
She began taking a drug called Temsirolimus, which had just reached the third approval stage for research.
It had been proven to stabilize tumors, but when Naomi went through the treatment something remarkable happened — two of her three tumors disappeared.
“There was all this communication going on, but it was lovely communication to be having because she was kicking cancer’s ass in a big way due to new science,” Vanessa said.
“Research is the answer, fundraising is the lock. Awareness is the key.”
She noted people can’t begin to fight pediatric cancer unless people are aware of how prevalent it is, and what can be done to fight it.