Alumni Patient Giana Collects Hundreds of Pajamas

Posted: Feb 20, 2024

11-year-old acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor, Giana completed her 9th annual pajama drive for the Casey Cares Foundation, who supported her throughout her treatments. Her final pajama count when she dropped them off at Casey Cares' office with her friend Josephine was 270!

Giana started collecting pajamas for Casey Cares in 2015 at 3 years old. She joined Casey Cares programs that same year and participated in activities such as visits to the National Aquarium and Port Discovery, attending a Princess Ball, watching the skaters at Disney On Ice, and more.

Thanks to donations from friends and family, her total for the "past nine years is at 2,351 pajamas" says Rita, Giana’s mother. 

The idea of collecting the pajamas happened before Giana’s treatment began. “Before being transferred to John Hopkins Hospital, the first hospital gave Giana a children’s gown that was too big for her little body. It was cold in the ER room and the gown’s fabric didn’t help keep Giana warm. The positive to those gowns is that it helped with her IV line that was attached to her port but all kids in hospital don’t have a port attached,” Rita states.

The family soon received new pajamas thanks to Casey Cares Kami’s Jammies program which provides new sleepwear to pediatric patients program on extended hospital stays and families who are isolated and homebound with a critically ill child.

Giana's family keeps collecting pajamas, “for those kids & families that find themselves in the same situation as us.”

“During Giana's first phase of treatment, we spent most of the month at John Hopkins Children's hospital in-patient care. When she was released to go home, we received a package from Casey Cares which included a card, pajamas, popcorn, and a gift card to purchase a movie. We were thankful to be home but also thankful to create a moment as a family besides the usual medications, tubes, and treatment plans,” Rita adds.

She also explains, “When Giana finished chemo, we were so happy to move to the next stage of life after cancer. Although there is always that little voice that says it could come back, so I purposely try to focus on the facts. Prior to her last day of chemo we celebrated the other endings such as the last day of steroids which she particularly hates, last day of methotrexate, and the last day of intrathecal chemo.”

“It was magical to watch her ring the bell because we knew the meaning of it even though she might not have at the time.  She does have late effects of childhood cancer treatment living as a childhood cancer survivor,” Rita says.

Rita states, “The two most memorable activities we had with Casey Cares were celebrating Giana's 2nd birthday given that she wasn't allowed to be around other kids due to her immunity. We were so touched with Casey Cares ability to make memories in difficult life circumstances.”

Casey Cares volunteers had surprised the young girl at her front door with cake, balloons, cupcakes and presents via our Birthday Blast program.

The mother continues, “The second memory is being selected by Casey Cares to go to Give Kids the World Village and Disney World in 2016. There was a party at the airport where hopeful energies were kept high until it was time to depart. I remember crying as we boarded the plane because everyone was so kind and all the focus was on celebrating the children.” 

Giana became a Casey Cares alumni patient in 2019 after the conclusion of regular leukemia treatment. Today, Giana is now 11 years old and loves 5th grade along with the independence it brings.

“She's a 5th grade school safety where she helps PreK through 1st grade students with carrying their bags, walking through the drop off parking lot, and navigating the hallway to their classroom,” says Rita.

Rita concludes, “Giana enjoys scootering and riding her bike outdoors, animals, making slime & friendship bracelets, and listening to her favorite artists Taylor Swift and Melanie Martinez. She's really into skincare and loves facemasks. She's a Junior in girl scouts and swims year-round.”

The pajamas donated by Giana will be counted towards Casey Cares Foundation’s 9th Annual #CaseyCaresBiggestPJParty held during the month of April. The pajamas will be distributed all year long to pediatric patients and home-bound critically ill kids via the Kami’s Jammies program in eight states and D.C. Want to sign up for our PJ Party? Click here! Plus, check out all the photos of Giana's drop off thanks to the Capital Gazette here!