By Nicole Foley
Health is something that everyone takes for granted, but that can easily change in one simple turn of events, just as it did for the Soto family.
Angie Soto, now 5 years old, was born Nov. 12 2007 with Down syndrome, and was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 18 months old. Angie has had tubes constantly attached to her since then. These tubes help her breath, eat, and assist in blood transfusions.
The family was constantly at the hospital working with doctors and trying to figure out how to cure their daughter. Angie went through numerous sessions of treatments, surgeries and transfusions. She also underwent chemotherapy, making her weak at times. Along with all this work came infections that Angie had to battle through.
“The hospital was her second home. We constantly had her there getting tests run and trying to make her better,” said her great-grandfather, Tom Schwager.
The bills have mounted over the years, but the family has not flinched.
“We love her more than anything, and we weren’t going to let her go. She’s been through more in the first five years of her life than so many people will go through at all and it was completely worth making sure she got the help she needed,” said Schwager.
At the age of 5 Angie has beaten the leukemia, which is now in remission. Over the years Angie has been sheltered and kept from doing so many things that children do because of the risk of her catching illness and infections more easily than a normal child. Now that she has reached the stage of remission she has the opportunity of partaking in new activities and will be starting school next year.
“She can walk, swim, and play like all of the other children. The only thing she can’t really do is talk much,” said Schwager.
To help pay the bills, the Soto family threw a benefit, which became known as “Angie’s Angels.” More than 170 people came to the event and about $17,000 was donated. Businesses in Berwyn and neighboring suburbs supported the event and helped the family collect money. There were also many big-name sponsors helping with the event, such as 101.9FM The MIX, the Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Bulls, and Wolves. The donations will go towards helping pay for Angie’s ongoing medical costs and her future check-ups.
“We are grateful for every donation we received. They will help with so much,” said Angie’s father.
Now that Angie is in remission she is spending less time at the hospital. Now she goes for about two, sometimes three check-ups a week, depending on how she is feeling. Starting in January she will be going for check-ups only once a week. In five years she can stop going in for weekly check ups, and her chances of the leukemia coming back are very slim.
Because Angie has Down syndrome she has an extra chromosome that helps prevent the chances of her leukemia coming back.
“The doctor said that it most likely won’t come back, but you never know,” Soto said. “We are very afraid that it will in the future. She’s so young you just never know.”