Two teenage Lake Tahoe girls battling cancer seek community support | SierraSun.com

Two teenage Lake Tahoe girls battling cancer seek community support

Bianca Bernal, 13, is undergoing chemotherapy while hospitalized in Oakland to treat her leukemia.
Courtesy Dora Diaz |

Three ways to donate:

1. Online GiveForward campaign: tinyurl.com/oqjj9ze

2. Mail: Write a check to the Incline Schools Academic Excellence Foundation, with “Our Girls Cancer Fund” on the memo line. Send to: ISAEF, PO Box 3985, Incline Village, NV 89450

3. Attend: Support Our Girls Cancer Fundraiser, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, during the IVGID Water Carnival at the Village Green.

Note: There is a $3 fee for kids to enter the IVGID Water Carnival.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — It wasn’t too long ago when a pair of local teenagers were going about their normal lives in Incline Village when a persistent pain turned everything upside down.

Soon, instead of attending school and hanging out with friends, the girls were focused on the loss of white blood cells and their long, dark hair.

Incline High School student Dayann Cuadros, 14, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March, while Incline Middle School student Bianca Bernal, 13, was diagnosed with leukemia in November 2014.

“No one from either my mom’s or dad’s (family) has had cancer ever,” said Joselyn Cuadros, Dayann’s sister. “It just shocked us. She being the first one, and she only being almost 15 years old.”

Bianca’s dad, Julian Bernal, added that the family was “very sad” and “crying all the time” upon learning Bianca’s diagnosis.

HELPING EASE THE BURDEN

Both girls are receiving their chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital Oakland.

With treatment being roughly 200 miles away in the Bay Area, Dayann’s mother — a single mom — and Bianca’s mother have both stopped working to take their daughters to the hospital and care for them.

This leaves Julian to support the Bernal family, while Joselyn, 25, and her brother, Brian, 20, work to support the Cuadros family.

While insurance is covering a majority of medical expenses, associated costs such as travel and lodging aren’t. On top of those additional costs are everyday expenses such as rent, utilities and groceries.

To help the families cover their expenses, a fundraiser will be held this Saturday at the Village Green during the IVGID Water Carnival.

It will include food, raffles and an opportunity to shave one’s head or dye one’s hair pink in support of Dayann and Bianca.

Both girls are not anticipated to attend the event, as they remain hospitalized, being treated for side effects of chemotherapy.

“It will help (the families) get through day-to-day,” said Liz Harrell, an Incline Middle School teacher and librarian who is leading the fundraiser. “Right now, they are dealing with a sick child, and then they can’t make their day-to-day expenses on top of that, so it will help ease one burden when there are two burdens right now.”

‘ONE OF THE BIGGEST TRAGEDIES WE’VE SEEN’

The goal is to raise at least $12,000 through Saturday’s event, mailed in donations and an online fundraising campaign with GiveForward.

As of Wednesday morning, $4,345 has been raised and donations will be accepted into October, according to GiveForward.

The final amount raised will be split evenly between the two families, Harrell said.

“It’s going to help us a lot,” Joselyn said. “Incline is expensive. … Me and my brother have to go half all the time — half on bills, half on rent. … Me and my brother don’t have enough sometimes, so it will help us a lot.”

More chemotherapy lies ahead for the girls, after which a better sense of how they are responding to treatment will be determined.

“At the beginning, it was hard for her,” said Joselyn, her eyes brimming with held-back tears. “(Dayann was) crying a lot. She would always ask, ‘Why me? Why me? What did I do wrong?’ … But right now she is taking it in. She’s accepted it.”

Julian described Bianca going through a similar progression upon learning she had cancer.

“I think this is one of the biggest tragedies we’ve seen (here) — two children facing cancer — and I believe that the people in this town will come together and help and support their families and the girls,” Harrell said.

For additional information about the fundraiser or questions, contact Harrell at 775-843-3482.