While other children her age were potty training or learning their shapes, Tessa Roos was fighting cancer. Now, she’s raising money to help another child having that same fight.
“Right before she turned 3, she came down with some weird symptoms, and we took her to the doctor,” Sarah Roos, Tessa’s mother, said.
What followed was a months-long ordeal, as the Roos family and doctor after doctor struggled to find the right diagnosis.
“It looked like a few different things, but it had characteristics they’d never seen before,” Sarah Roos said.
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That process involved traveling back and forth from San Luis Obispo to Stanford over a seven-month period before, finally, the Roos family managed to convince doctors to do something, anything, to stop Tessa’s cancer from progressing.
Doctors found a compatible bone marrow donor — an anonymous German man, Sarah Roos said — and completed the transplant in January 2013.
“She recovered beautifully, and she just celebrated her five-year transplant anniversary,” Sarah Roos said.
Today, Tessa Roos — now 8 years old and a third grader at Bishop’s Peak Elementary School — rides horses, does gymnastics and, perhaps best of all, doesn’t have to take a suite of medications every day.
“She’s a very lucky kid,” Sarah Roos said.
The family also knows others are not so lucky. One example is Max Collins, a student at Laguna Middle School, where Sarah Roos teaches.
Collins has been diagnosed with aplastic anemia, and his body has thus far rejected attempted bone marrow transplants, Sarah Roos said.
“He’s been sick for a really long time,” she said. “He’s just not getting better.”
Laguna Middle School has dedicated this year’s “Penny Wars” fundraiser, where students bring in spare change for a good cause, to help the Collins family through their struggle. But the Roos family wants to do more.
“Because of my history with my daughter, this is something that is near and dear to my heart,” she said.
After learning about Collins, Tessa Roos wanted to help, too, Sarah Roos said. After seeing the success Girl Scouts had selling cookies in front of Whiz Kids, near Trader Joe’s at 3979 South Higuera Street, Sarah Roos contacted the owner of that business and got permission for Tessa Roos to set up a lemonade stand.
Starting around 11 a.m. on Sunday, Tessa Roos will be selling lemonade, with all proceeds going to the Collins family. Sarah Roos said they also will be collecting donations for the family.