Dover High sophomore helping cancer patients

Meghana Lodhavia, a sophomore at Dover High School, holds a few handmade “get well” cards for cancer patients made by second-graders from St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Middletown. Making it her mission to help those battling cancer, Meghan has established the first Cards to Beat Cancer 5K Run/Walk, to be held on Nov. 27 at 9 a.m. at the Wild Quail Country Club in Wyoming. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Meghana Lodhavia, a sophomore at Dover High School, holds a few handmade “get well” cards for cancer patients made by second-graders from St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Middletown. Making it her mission to help those battling cancer, Meghan has established the first Cards to Beat Cancer 5K Run/Walk, to be held on Nov. 27 at 9 a.m. at the Wild Quail Country Club in Wyoming. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

WYOMING — Meghana Lodhavia’s grandfather, Gopal Bala, has battled thyroid cancer since Meghana was born in 2000. . Despite his condition, her grandfather, affectionately known as “Tha Tha,” has never slouched from being energetic and fun. Some times were harder than other though.

“He always would play dolls with us in his living room and he would cook delicious Indian food for us and read his beautiful stories with us, so seeing him in a hospital bed where he couldn’t do those things was heartbreaking,” Meghana said.

When she was 8 years old, her grandfather was hospitalized again with thyroid cancer and the outcome was uncertain. She has vivid memories of going down to Emory Hospital’s Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lived at the time, and was being treated.

“I recalled seeing Tha Tha in that horrific state before, with the IVs in his arms and bottled medication that lined the back wall,” she said. “Unlike our last visit, I stood in front of the hospital room’s window, watching the room on the other side of where I stood. My stomach tightened with pain and my legs stiffened. I did not want to see my sick, frail Tha Tha like that.”

Fortunately her grandfather recovered, moved to Delaware and now enjoys good health. However, Meghana realized that not everyone gets such a happy ending. Through the experience, she was inspired to start raising money for cancer patients without the means to pay for treatment.

Last year, as a Dover High School freshmen, she began fundraising.

“I figured even if I raised a small amount of money, it could still help a lot of people. I was able to raise over $1,300 over the course of three months last year to send to the Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta,” she said.

“I had realized that there were other kids in my shoes too and I wanted to help them out and their families by helping them pay for the costs of treatment that they might not be able to afford.”

Now as a sophomore, she is continuing her efforts. She recently stopped by her middle school, St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Middletown, to mentor second-graders on community service.

“I wanted to make my project more local, so on one of my days off from school I went back to St. Anne’s, to meet up with my teacher Ms. Bell who has supported me since day one,” she said.

“I explained my story to her class and talked about what I was trying to do. Then I helped them write “get well” cards for cancer patients.”

On her own initiative, Meghana approached Bayhealth Medical Center.

“I sent out emails to the staff at Bayhealth and met with them one-on-one in a few meetings to see how I could help them,” she said. “Fundraising was one of the things that they said I could help with so I decided to host a 5K so I could both raise money and allow the community to help.”

The event, called the Cards to Beat Cancer 5K Run/Walk, will be held on Nov. 27 at 9 a.m. at the Wild Quail Country Club at 1 Clubhouse Drive in Wyoming.

The run/walk course will be through the residential and golf areas of the country club. Registration fees will be $20 until Nov 20 and $25 after that or on the day of the event. The proceeds from the event will go to Bayhealth’s Cancer Institute and “get well” cards collected will be distributed by Meghana.

“I want to hand deliver the cards to the patients because I feel like that means more to them,” she said. “Bayhealth is helping to distribute the funds directly to the financially needy who are in cancer treatment.”

To help raise funds and deliver cards, visit youcaring.com/bayhealth-cancer-institute-642646. To register for the Cards to Beat Cancer 5K, visit trisportsevents.com and click on the Event Calendar.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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