Honored Patients

2015 Honorees - Our Inspiration

San Francisco Honored Hero Joey Camacho

Joey Camacho

San Francisco Honored Hero

Joey is a carefree, spirited, and loving four-year old boy. He comes from a rich cultural background of being Japanese, Mexican, Chamorro, and Spanish.  He loves trains, dragons, and Disney movies, and you can often find him on the beach, in the park, or exploring the forest for animal friends!

Joey also has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was diagnosed in June 2013, when he was only three years old. After two weeks of what was initially thought to be a virus, blood tests showed that Joey, in fact, had cancer. Many hospital stays, procedures, medications, and setbacks later, Joey is now in the maintenance phase of his treatment. It has been a long, hard road. Joey has endured several serious side effects from his chemotherapy, but he is strong, determined, and always with a smile on his face. He is our hero.

Joey is surrounded by the love and support of his very large family, including his parents, big sister Gracie, little brother Ricky, grandparents, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.


San Jose Honored Hero Armaan Dhillon

Armaan Dhillon

San Jose Honored Hero

Armaan was diagnosed with high-risk B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February 2014, shortly after his fifth birthday. After weekly chemo treatments, spinal taps, daily medications, and his removal from school, he is officially in remission and in the maintenance phase of his treatment!

Armaan is now six years old and was excited to return to his kindergarten class last November. His favorite color is green, and he holds a special love in his heart for candy, pizza, and his mom's jambalaya. In his spare time, Armaan loves participating in gymnastics and karate, learning about science, and reading about strange animals - especially sharks! He will start first grade this fall and turns seven next January.


 North Bay Honored Hero Haley Gomez

Haley Gomez

North Bay Honored Hero

In September 2012, at the age of seven, Haley was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After her diagnosis, Haley spent seven weeks in the hospital, including time in the ICU. She also suffered numerous infections over the course of her treatment, resulting in additional hospital stays. On February 1, 2015, after two and a half years, Haley completed her treatment and reached remission.

Haley is now 10 years old and lives in Novato with her parents and her older brother, Austin. She loves cooking, singing, pretend play, and reading the Dork Diaries series. With her amazing energy and positive attitude, Haley has a story to share or a nice thing to say to everyone she meets. Haley's fourth grade class raised the most money in her school for the LLS Pennies for Patients program, and we are thrilled to honor this inspirational girl as an Honored Hero!


 Peninsula Honored Hero Christopher Holteen

Christopher Holteen

Peninsula Honored Hero

Christopher was two and a half years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).  After his diagnosis, Christopher spent more than three weeks in the hospital, and for the next two years of his life, he received different types of chemotherapy treatments.   He has endured countless hospital visits for a variety of procedures.

Christopher finished his chemo on December 15, 2007, and we are thrilled to say that he is more than five years in remission and considered cured!  He is an active 6th grader who loves to play hockey, root for the Sharks, and hang out with his friends.

Christopher and his family have participated in the Peninsula Walk for many years, using the night to celebrate his survivorship.  They have a party at his house every year before the Walk, and Christopher has even said that the Walk is more fun than his birthday!



Napa Honored Hero Itzel Mendez

Itzel Mendez

Napa Valley Honored Hero

Itzel Mendez was just three years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2009. It was a devastating day for her family and the beginning of more than three years of chemotherapy. Itzel was incredibly brave throughout the process, and after a strong battle, she went into remission.

Unfortunately, Itzel relapsed in November 2012, and her only options were to have a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. Friends, family, and the community of Napa Valley rallied around her by holding a donor registry drive in search of the perfect match. A donor was found within a few months, and in February 2013, Itzel had her cord blood transplant.

Today, Itzel's prognosis is good, and she is very happy to be able to rejoin her classmates in school. She loves princesses and doing crafts, and she is an amazing sister, daughter, and friend to all who know her.


Caitlin Mullinix

Caitlin Mullinix

San Francisco Remembered Hero

This year, we walk in memory of Caitlin Mullinix, who lost her battle with Hodgkins lymphoma in June, at the age of 36.  Caitlin was first diagnosed in 2011, only a month after giving birth to her son.  Over the next four years, Caitlin not only endured mulitple treatments and hospital stays, but also fought to raise awareness and funds to support research and local families affected by this disease. 


During the course of her illness, Caitlin received a stem cell transplant from her sister and was treated with a new drug that significantly extended her life - both advances that she knew were made possible through the work of physicians and researchers striving to find a cure.  In order to support these efforts, Caitlin became a dedicated volunteer for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  She was a top fundraiser for Light The Night, a member of the Light The Night Volunteer Leadership Committee, and the 2013 San Francisco Light The Night Honored Hero.


Caitlin's friends and family from coast to coast will walk on Team Invictus this year to honor her life and to continue her dedication to finding cures for blood cancers.



East Bay Honored Hero Preston Osicka

Preston Osicka

East Bay Honored Hero

During a routine check-up in June of 2012, the doctor noticed that Preston's glands were swollen. Preston seemed fine at the time, but a week and a half later, one of his glands was sticking out like a marble. After monitoring his lymph nodes and blood count, the pediatrician referred Preston to the Children's Oncology Department.


When the family went in that morning, they thought they would be home in time for lunch. One chest x-ray, one ultrasound, and lots of blood draws later, Preston was admitted for a likely leukemia diagnosis. A bone marrow aspiration the next day confirmed that he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.


It has been a tough few years since his diagnosis, but Preston has been a trooper! He has since started playing for the A's in Little League, plays flag football at De La Salle, is a camouflage belt in Taekwondo, and has started kindergarten. He has an amazing spirit and is an inspiration to us all.


North Bay Remembered Hero Orion Strong


Orion Strong

North Bay Remembered Hero

This year, we remember Orion Strong, a remarkable, caring 17-year old who lost his battle with AML in November 2014. Orion was an amazing light in his community, always the first to volunteer for an event or raise a helping hand when needed. Just prior to his diagnosis, Orion was recognized for his tireless efforts by the Russian River Firefighters and received the Lincoln Stewart Award for service to his school and community.

After diagnosis in June 2013, Orion underwent several months of treatment and was able to start as a freshman at El Molino High School before he relapsed in May 2014.

Though Orion lost his battle in November, he left behind a legacy that encourages and inspires others to continue his work supporting the community. In addition to his local efforts, Orion was passionate about helping others with AML and childhood cancer. He not only consented to participate in many research studies and opportunities but also donated his body to UCSF so that he could help further childhood cancer research even after he was gone.

Orion's family started the "Hope for Orion" Light The Night team in his memory.


Jayden Zentner
Jayden Zentner

North Bay Honored Hero

Jayden Zentner was four years old when he was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May 2013. His leukemia presented with rare leukemia clusters, which fractured his pelvis and his back in two places. He not only had to begin intensive chemotherapy immediately, but he also had to wear a brace to stabilize his back while the tumors shrunk. After a few weeks of treatment, Jayden stopped walking. Following plenty of physical therapy, he was back on his feet, and he reached remission in September 2013.

Jayden is currently in the maintenance phase to stay in remission, and he will continue chemotherapy through September 2016.

Jayden lives in Petaluma with his parents, older sister, and younger brother. Jayden loves being a kid again and being able to go to school, play outside, and ride his bike. He has strong ambitions to help other children stay strong during treatment and hopes to one day find easier treatments for other kids.



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