Danna Sabolik was stunned when her 15-year-old daughter, Cali, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in July. Nearly two months later, Cali is in her second round of chemotherapy and losing her hair.
“It’s called the silent cancer,” Sabolik said, partly because it goes symptomless for so long, she said, and when Cali began having symptoms, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. They were about to leave for a vacation, she said, when Cali began to experience nausea. Sabolik said she thought she ought to go get checked out before they left, just in case.
It’s all been fast — startlingly fast, she said.
“She was playing volleyball; she felt perfectly healthy,” Sabolik said, and now life has changed to center on surgeries and treatments.
But there are many reasons to feel fortunate in the middle of the chaos of the last two months, she said.
It started with the girls on her volleyball team at Episcopal High School, who got together and searched for girls with long hair willing to donate it to make a wig for Cali.
“They tried to keep it a secret, and they managed to do it, up until the day of,” Sabolik said. “Then someone posted it on social media.”
In all, 20 people, from first-graders to high school students, went to the Aveda Institute’s Cosmetology School in Baton Rouge and donated hair, which will be sent to Caring and Comfort to make a wig for Cali.
Cali is currently getting treatment through Our Lady of the Lake, she said, with consultation from St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“Our Lady sent her tests there, and St. Jude’s came up with a treatment plan,” Sabolik said.
Her volleyball teammates also created a rotating schedule to bring meals for the Sabolik family on days when Cali needs treatments, and they don’t have time or energy to cook.
“They’ve been supporting us in that way from the very beginning,” Sabolik said.
Cali’s journey has brought awareness about ovarian cancer to members of her team, Sabolik said, and she hopes sharing Cali’s story will bring awareness to a wider audience.
For more information about the hair donations, visit www.episcopalbr.org/head-of-school-blog/a-gracious-community.
For more information about ovarian cancer, visit www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/ovarian-cancer-signs-and-symptoms.