Teen soccer team ranks behind the coach’s daughter who has rare brain cancer
Blake Daly is fighting a rare brain cancer. Her father’s soccer team gathers behind her. Deb Villalon reports
SANTA ROSA, California. – A North Bay family – fighting against odds – has found unexpected help from a teenage soccer team.
“We are going through a lot,” admits football coach Chris Daly, whose young daughter is struggling with brain cancer. “But when you have people to support you, it’s easier to get through difficult times.”
Between various club teams he coaches, Daly coaches a team of 16-year-old girls.
“I’ll have them for another year, then they’ll go to college,” he said as the North Coast Football Club 04 ‘Girls was running drills behind him.
During three years of competition, the players became aware of the challenges off the field from their coach.
“Everything seemed normal at first,” said husband Amber Daly, who recalled daughter Blake developing flu-like symptoms when she was 11 months old.
When her lethargy and nausea couldn’t be explained by her pediatrician, the couple took Blake to an emergency room in Santa Rosa.
“Her heart rate dropped, and they immediately did an MRI and found a huge tumor and took her to UCSF,” said Chris.
Blake had a 10 cm tumor in her 12 cm skull, which was immediately removed to relieve pressure.
She was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, AT / RT.
She spent her first birthday in the hospital, launching varied treatments, hopes, and setbacks for four years.
“She would have a scan every three months, so you would live full life for three months,” said Amber, describing how Blake would respond to the treatment and recover, but only until the tumors returned.
That was the crushing news the football team heard this spring.
“We all came to practice and Chris had just received the call that Blake’s cancer was coming back and we all experienced it at that point,” said Taylor Ingram.
They felt compelled to do something.
“This could be any of us,” said Ingram, “and it’s absolutely scary.”
The team launched “Bracelets for Blake,” selling rubber bracelets for $ 5 each.
Three hundred sold quickly, and a new shipment of 400 has just arrived.
They were able to give the family $ 1,500 for their needs and to support research into childhood cancer.
Blake will begin another trial drug soon.
Her parents are frustrated that only about 4% of government funding for cancer research is focused on pediatric diseases.
“Children need better treatment options because those who have them are not working or are too heavy for them,” Amber said.
Blake has undergone high doses of chemotherapy, proton irradiation, stem cell transplantation, gamma knife surgery, and experimental drugs, all to beat her tumor growth.
But the treatments and their complications have also negatively impacted her health.
“Blake’s cancers, as well as other cancers in children, are so rare and so aggressive, they’re hard to figure out,” said Chris, “but her spirit, this wonderful, positive girl never left.”
Blake likes to play with her parents and little brother and sing along to her favorite movies, even though she can’t walk anymore and her eyes are half closed.
“She’s the strongest little girl, she’s been through all of this with a smile and she never complains,” said Chris.
His teenage athletes feel the same admiration.
In addition to the bracelets, they made tie-dye T-shirts embroidered with the words “Our Daly Inspiration” and surprised Coach Daly by hiding them under their uniform.
“It almost brought me to tears, they almost had me to tears, that’s for sure,” he said.
“We feel like a family, not just any football club,” said Chris, who met in a group with his players.
The team says they are returning the moral support their coach has shown them.
“We’ve all had our tough days, but as we practice, we’ll get better and our days get better,” said Ingram. “So we wanted all of this to be a big surprise, and perfect, and it was.”