Former cancer patient gives back, forms nonprofit to help survivors

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- At Valley Children's Hospital, 85% of children diagnosed with cancer are cured, but they're missing out on years of life and experiences inside a hospital. Peyman Moghaddam knows the feeling all too well.

"Nobody will truly understand what you went through unless you did it yourself," Moghaddam said. He was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia when he was a sophomore at Clovis West High School.

"Whatever dreams and college you wanted to go to, scratch those ideas, you're going to be busy for the next seven years... next thing you know, you get pushed back in the world as a full-blown adult." Moghaddam would spend more than seven years at Valley Children's. He praises the staff there for his care and his eventual triumph over cancer, but missing out on years of being a teenager weighed heavy.

To help others going through the same thing, Moghaddam started the nonprofit Survivor Squad to help cancer surviving youth adapt to life again. Moghaddam said he got the idea at a construction site after seeing products that were being wasted. He hopes to use things that would normally go to waste to fund the program, and has a goal of eventually helping survivors on an individual basis.

The organization is in its third month of existence, and one of their first moves was to give back to the hospital that helped save his life.

On Friday, exactly 17 years to the day after he was first diagnosed, Moghaddam presented a check for $4,000 to the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program at Valley Children's. The program aims to help patients at the hospital transition from patient to survivor, aiding with everything from social help to dealing with long-term effects.

"It could be post-traumatic stress, or anxiety, or depression or social isolation... and so we want to help the survivors continue their treatment into their survivorship and into adulthood," said Alistair Robertson. He's a pediatric oncology social worker who helps with the survivorship program, and he was also Moghaddam's primary social worker when he was diagnosed.

The program is led by Dr. John Gates. He was diagnosed with leukemia at age five and knows the importance of survivorship resources.

"A lot of kids were interrupted during a time when they were trying to figure out who they are, and so now they come back and don't know who they are or what they want to do," he said.

Gates and Robertson hope to continue growing the program, which is funded by fundraisers and donations.

If you'd like to help the Survivorship Program at Valley Children's, click here.

"This is a really amazing cause and if you would like to make a donation to Survivor Squad go to SurvivorSquad.org. We accept cash donations, cars, boats, real property, and any other item of value, all of which will go to benefit the survivorship program," Moghaddam said. If you'd like to aid Survivor Squad, click here.
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