Desi Cechin, age 5, is fighting cancer and now she has a new ally on her side.
On the morning of August 16, Orange County-based private jet charter firm STAjets will be flying Desi from the Palm Springs airport to New York City (Teterboro) so that she can undergo crucial surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
In early April, Desi doubled over with such terrible stomach pain that she was rushed to the ER. It was there the doctor told Desi's parents she had a huge, cancerous, aggressive tumor in her abdomen.
Desi is fighting neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer that strikes about 650 kids per year in the United States. Desi's case is the worst kind: high-risk stage 4. The bad news continued. The tumor already was 11cm x 10 cm long and wrapping around her aorta.
"We are living in a nightmare," Laura Palada, Desi's mom, said. "One day she's playing at school, then the next you're living in a hospital unit.
At Loma Linda University Medical Center, Desi had been going through her fourth round of chemotherapy. It is here where the family learned of a revolutionary treatment program at Sloan Kettering on Manhattan's Upper East Side. At Sloan Kettering, Dr. Michael La Quaglia performs about two tumor surgeries a week. It is, also, at Sloan Kettering where a special antibody therapy called 3F8 is used instead of the grueling bone marrow transplants which are routine treatment elsewhere.
But how do you get a child with a compromised immune system to NYC from California? You need a private charter. Unfortunately, most of the charter planes that fly children to hospitals are not pressurized and are unable to fly across the country.
That's where STAjets stepped in.