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Friday, 03 March 2017 10:29
Fighting Cancer, Family Style
SARATOGA SPRINGS — At just six years old, Abby Sayles of Waterford has already had 18 spinal taps, swallowed 1,652 chemotherapy pills, and learned to dance joyfully to Katy Perry songs whenever she can. The kindergartener was diagnosed with B-cell ALL (acute lymphocytic leukemia) in August 2014 – hard news for her parents, Steve and Renee Sayles, to take. “It was overwhelming,” said Renee. “I was angry, upset, worried – so many emotions at once. But the first thing her doctor said after telling us she had leukemia was that she’s going to be fine. You don’t really believe them at first – it’s cancer – it’s tough to hear.” Fortunately, research dollars have made a tremendous impact in blood cancer treatments. Those successes and resulting hope is why Joe Kakaty of Saratoga Springs decided to accept a nomination for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) 2017 Man and Woman of the Year fundraising campaign. “You feel helpless because you want to do something,” said Joe. “I have several uncles with leukemia, and my dad’s a survivor. It’s everywhere and touches everyone. LLS has spent a billion dollars in cancer therapies over the years. The survival rate was 6 percent, and it’s 90 percent now.” That said, he was initially hesitant to accept. The 10-week campaign is a big commitment for a working family man. When he brought the idea home, he said he could not have been more proud of the decision his wife and three children made to do the campaign together, as a family. “It is a blessing to have an opportunity for the family to work together for such an important cause,” said Josey Kakaty, Joe’s wife. “Our ‘someday is today,’ and this is something that really matters.” The LLS trademark is “Someday is Today®” and as the Kakatys brainstormed how they could each participate, the children came up with the idea to write a song around that theme, make a music video, and use it to help promote fundraising for LLS. The Kakaty3 band is made up of siblings Bella, 11, on vocals, Joey, 9, on drums, and Kenny, 13, on electric guitar. They put their heads together, and with Kenny’s wordsmithing talent and the help of Overit Studios and other professionals, plus support from friends like the Sayles family, a video was born. “I think what they are doing is wonderful,” said Renee. “All the candidates doing the campaign have some sort of connection to cancer. Even if they don’t make Man or Woman of the Year, they are still winning in such a big way.” The first live show of “Someday is Today” will take place on Saturday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at the Parting Glass Pub. So far, subsequent performances include Sunday, March 5 at 6 p.m. at Saratoga Central Catholic School; Friday, March 10 at 5 p.m. at Crown Grill; Wednesday, March 22 at 6 p.m. at Prime at Saratoga National; and April 22, 3 p.m. at the City Tavern. The Kakatys hope to raise $50,000, and have secured a donor that will match up to $25,000. The plan is to use the video to raise funds online, and combine that with up to 10 live performances at a $10 donation per person, and have raffles at the gigs. The parents will also do letter-writing and phone campaigns. Kenny is confident the campaign will meet its goals. “Americans are super generous, giving an estimated $400 billion to charity annually,” he said. “Our country’s generosity is inspiring. We hope they will help us make a difference for the LLS.” Abby is doing her part to make a difference, too. She did exceptionally well throughout her chemotherapy, which ended last October. Her mother said she must see an oncologist the rest of her life, and they pray every day that the cancer doesn’t return, but for now, the six-year-old is helping a young friend who was recently diagnosed. “I told her that her hair will come back,” said Abby, “and we like her hair however it is.” She also showed her how to swallow pills and talked about her experiences. Her mother said Abby is a miniature adult in a child’s body. “You have to take one day at a time and focus on the happiness of your kid,” said Renee. “It’s what truly matters. The doctors will take care of the rest.” The fundraising link will go live at midnight on March 3: http://www.mwoy.org/pages/uny/alb17/jkakaty. The “Someday is Today” video, along with a link to the fundraising campaign, can be viewed at https://youtu.be/grvkObff1l4.