Believing for Desi

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 STA Jets 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 STA Jets stepped in.

“It’s an honor helping Desi and her family. I’m a new father, my daughter is almost 2 and having a child has changed my perspective on the world and our future,” said Kurt Belcher, CEO/President of STA Jets. “I would do anything in my power to save my child and I could never forgive myself if no one else stepped up to help Desi.”

STA Jets will be donating the flight to Teterboro for Desi and her family where she will be taken to Sloan Kettering for her surgery and treatment.

“Our family is beyond grateful to have STA Jets provide a flight for our family from our home in California to her hospital in New York,” said Laura Palada, Desi’s mom. “To have this company donate this flight not only removes a huge burden off of our shoulders as Desirae has such a compromised immune system from all the chemo she has been having, but it also gives us the peace of mind knowing that she won’t be exposed to the thousands of other people she would be exposed to at the busy airports and on commercials flights. We thank STA Jets so very much for providing our daughter with this much needed flight.”

Desi’s family and friends started a “Believing for Desi” page on youcaring.com to raise the $300,000 needed for her surgery and treatment at Sloan Kettering in NYC. They have raised over $200,000 thus far and have been told that MSKCC and a secondary insurance Desi’s family has gotten will help pay for most of the surgery and initial treatment. However, there will be many more treatments, hospital stays, and travel for Desi and her family for years to come.

Desi and her family are incredibly appreciative of the outpouring of support she has received.

“It has been so amazing and we are all so thankful,” said Desi’s mom, Laura Palada. “It has allowed us to focus on her, on getting Desi well, rather than having to think about everything else.”

If you would like to help, please visit www.believingfordesi.com.