LAFD shows support for firefighter's family after infant daughter diagnosed with cancer
LOS ANGELES - For years, a local fire station has brought comfort to kids battling illness at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Now, one of those firefighters needs the support for his own daughter. His family with the Los Angeles Fire Department answered the call to duty.
We've shown the videos before, where an 8-year-old fighting leukemia is delighted by his unexpected guest at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
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At LAFD Fire Station 35, it's been a tradition since 2015.
"I like to wave to them," explained Zane Archer, with the Los Angeles Fire Department. "Something we like to do to encourage them, to keep them fighting, and just brighten up their days."
The child's dad said his son had not been this joyous in weeks.
Once, a kid brought his own sign.
"One of the children up in the window held up a sign, which was pretty special to us, and it said, ‘Last day of chemo.’ So, again, another one of those moments that captures our hearts," said LAFD Fire Captain Adam Brandos.
For years LAFD Station 35 has seen the impact firsthand of these words, but recently it became personal.
LAFD fire engineer Matt Bortel, who has spent years comforting others, is now on the receiving end.
"You never imagine you're going to be on the other side," explained Bortel. "You’re always trying to help that family in need you never think you’ll be that family in need."
His daughter Remi, at 22 months old, is now fighting cancer.
Rami sits in a hospital bed at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
"She's amazing. She's my hero," Bortel explained. "I know a lot of people look at firefighters and I know all of us and say those guys are heroes. But she's my hero."
Remi was diagnosed with a tumor called neuroblastoma. She has four tumors on her abdomen, spine, kidney and behind her eye, which is how Bortel and his wife, Amy, a nurse, saw the first sign.
Rami and her father at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
"She ended up with, like a little bit of a black eye back in October," said Bortel.
"You need to attack in all kinds of ways, like chemotherapy, like radiation. Remi has been enrolled in this study -- MIBG is a type of therapy, that's what we call targeted radiation," explained Dr. Araz Marachelian, MD, Medical Director, Neuroblastoma Program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Remi, a spunky, loving new big sister will be spending much of her next year at the children's hospital, which is where Bortel's fire family will make sure the tradition continues for one of their own.
Firefighter Zane Archer delivered the message to his friend Remi as he scaled to her window at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, holding a sign that said, "Remi, we love you."
Firefighter Zane Archer holds a sign up to the window at Children's Hospital Los Angeles that reads, "Remi, we love you. From Fire Station 35."
"Oh, she was excited," her father said. "You know, she was blowing kisses to Zane."
"Got me in the gut, really. You could tell that she was going through it," Archer said. "She was really tired, but she still had the strength to wave. She blew me a kiss."
"There's nothing that we wouldn't do to assist him and his family. And, of course, little Remi," said Fire Captain Adam Brandos.
"It brings everything into perspective on life and things we find important," her father explained. "She's kicking butt right now. I just want her to know how strong she is… I want her to know how strong she is."
Because of all the research happening at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, the prognosis for complicated neuroblastoma cases like Remi's has dramatically improved. The hospital is in need of blood donors to help kids undergo this type of treatment.
A GoFundMe has been set up to support Remi's family.
For blood donations, visit chla.org/blood-donation-need. To make an appointment or for any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 323-361-2441 to make an appointment.