GREEN: Ben Ladich’s mother, Bethany, said her son isn’t above playing the “cancer card” when it suits him.
But the 17-year old Green High School junior gets very little traction when he uses the ploy on her, she said.
“He tells his friends, ‘Do you believe my mom said I can’t get a new car because [the cancer] isn’t in an organ?’ ” she recalls her son’s plea. “He’s got blood cancer.”
The way the family, including husband, Steve, and their two older children deal with Ben’s medical issue is to “make fun of it.”
Ben, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January, has only one wish that even the Make-A-Wish Foundation won’t grant — a new car. Not just any set of wheels, but a white Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
“It’s all-wheel drive. It’s fabulous,” Ben said.
Other than needing a car, Ben said, he’s good.
“Seriously, I don’t need a thing.”
Ben, who is receiving at-home instruction attended “Team Ben” day at the school to thank students for helping raise money for a charity that is dear to his heart — Akron Children’s Hospital’s Project Ed Bear. The effort made by the hospital’s oncology and hematology departments is to greet each new patient with a teddy bear and a bag full of other necessities.
Bethany Ladich, who works at the school and also sells real estate, has been a volunteer with Project Ed Bear for more than a year — long before her son’s diagnosis.
“I walked in and they handed me a bear. It was kind of crazy. My mom has been working with them and then I got diagnosed,” Ben said.
On Friday, stylists from Signature Hair Studio on South Main Street were on hand to shave heads or temporarily spray-color hair for about 40 students for a donation. The event, along with the sale of “Team Ben” T-shirts, raised $2,510 for the hospital.
Although the majority of shaved heads belonged to young men, more than one female student had a portion of her hair shaved during the lunchtime event.
Sophomore Chalah Lawson, 16, asked stylist Deanna Salter to shave one side of her head into an attractive new look.
Lawson said she had been thinking about getting the style for a couple of weeks. These stylists were professionals, she said, unlike an earlier head-shaving event where Ben was the barber who shaved the heads of 70 of his closest friends.
“I just thought it would be a good way to show my support for the guy,” she said.
Junior Carson Corle, 17, asked for a Mohawk cut to show solidarity with his track teammates who also sport the look.
“It’s a good cause. I appreciate his confidence and strength coming to school today,” Corle said of Ben.
But Corle admitted the new look probably won’t work once his date for Green High School’s prom next week sees it.
“I think I’ll have to shave it off before then,” he admitted.
It’s takes a great deal of humor to get through more than 15 hospital stays in the past four months, chemotherapy treatments and three weeks of 7-day a week radiation treatments.
“I keep reminding myself as a parent that it’s not the worst thing that could happen,” Bethany Ladich said.
“But if I could put him in a plastic bubble right now, I’d do it,” she said.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.