Catlin community rallies behind 15-year-old cancer patient


CATLIN--Chance Kistler is a typical teenager: he's a sophomore in high school, he plays football, and hangs out with friends. But right now, he's at St. Louis Children's Hospital because in early December, he was diagnosed with leukemia. 

"My reaction was pure fear, because that could've been anybody's child," said Sherri Brown, a Kistler family friend. "Because you know, it's a close community, the kids are friends."

So the close Catlin community came together to "give hope a chance, by giving Chance hope." They set up a t-shirt sale, planned a fundraiser dinner, and some kids even shaved their heads to show their support. 

"It shows that whatever you're going through, you're not going to go through it alone," said Brown.

But they also organized a blood drive to help anyone going through the same struggle. 

"This donation may not go directly to Chance, but it's going to go to someone just like him," said Amanda Howie, recruitment development coordinator for Community Blood Services of Illinois. "Seventeen percent of our blood goes to cancer patients."

Patients in Danville, Urbana, Mattoon, Hoopeston, and all across Central Illinois. 

"It stays here locally first and foremost," said Howie. "But then if anyone else needs it, we start spreading it around."

One donation helps up to three people, so even though Chance is in the hospital, he is still helping others. 

"The treatment that is necessary kills the bad cells, but it also kills the good cells," said Howie. "So a lot of the time when you hear something like a cancer patient has to make their counts, that's what they're talking about. And a lot of the times it means a transfusion to get to the next round of chemo."

Chance is currently undergoing his second round of chemo in St. Louis, while his friends at home encourage him to stay strong. 

"Cancer picked the wrong kid," said Brown. "The goal right now: by May we're looking at him cancer free. Now from here until then, we don't know what's going to happen."

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