Calling all ‘soldiers’ to fight with Sara again
By Tim Hadac
Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound
The social media post from Clearing resident and retired Chicago Police Officer Dwayne Bragiel was to the point.
Seven words grabbed my attention.
“She has to fight the demon again.”
His 22-year-old daughter, Sara, “has been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma…and she’s fighting the fight.
“She has endured her first round of five-day, in-patient chemo,” Dwayne continued. “After her second round, she will have a scan done to see if the treatment is working. All we are asking for is prayers.”
You may recall Sara from the high-profile, inspiring Battling 4 The Bragiels effort launched in 2015.
It started when one of her two older brothers (Matt) was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early 2015, when he was a freshman at St. Laurence High School.
The poor boy went through cancer hell—including being in a medically-induced coma. But surrounded by the love of his family, friends, classmates and neighbors in Clearing and Garfield Ridge, he persevered and survived. Today, he’s a healthy young man in his 20s.
But just as Matt was finishing his treatments in mid-2015, lightning struck the Bragiel family twice.
Sara was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, just weeks after her graduation from Dore School.
She was looking forward to freshman year at Queen of Peace High School, where she had made the volleyball team.
So Sara started several cycles of chemotherapy treatments. She lost all her hair after the first cycle, and her dad, mom and aunt all shaved their heads in a show of solidarity.
But like her brother and with the same multiple layers of enveloping support (calling themselves Sara’s Soldiers), Sara beat back cancer.
She has been without any signs of cancer for more than seven years.
So what next?
Well, Sara just completed her second round of chemotherapy. Dwayne tells me her spirits are strong and her family and friends are offering and delivering support.
One quick aside: Shortly after confirmation of her diagnosis, Sara was fired by her employer for being away from the job too many days, despite the fact that she kept them abreast of her situation as it progressed. Folks, there is something seriously wrong with our country when employers can get away with behavior like that towards workers. I mean, is this 2023 or 1823?
Anyway, Dwayne tells me no large-scale fundraising events are planned at this point.
“Sara is one of the strongest people out there, and we know that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers,” Dwayne wrote recently. “However, no one should have to experience this, let alone twice.”
That’s why a good friend of Sara has started a drive to offer shirts that show solidarity with Sara. If you head over to bonfire.com/sarassoldiers, you may purchase a cool Sara’s Soldiers t-shirt. This was an online fundraiser started modestly, with a goal of just 50 shirts. But as I write this on Oct. 11, I see 128 shirts have already been sold. So if you want one—as I do–head over there now, because the drive is over at the end of this week.
I trust you’ll keep Sara and her family in your prayers, including Dwayne, who has seen his share of heartache in the last decade. Beyond the cancer battles of Matt and Sara, Dwayne lost his mother, Connie, in 2020; and his wife, Kathy, in 2022.
In other news
- If you want to support St. Symphorosa School, you may want to make plans to attend the annual Grateful Thankful Blessed Dinner, set for 6 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at European Chalet, 5445 S. Harlem. Tickets are $65 each, which includes dinner, a disc jockey playing recorded music and live entertainment by a “dueling pianos” act. Refreshments are from a cash bar at this “21 and up” event. There also will be raffles and a silent auction of student artwork. To purchase tickets, call the school office at (773) 585-6888.
- Elsewhere in today’s edition of the Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound, you’ll read about this year’s Carnevil display in Clearing. It can be pretty intense. So if you’re looking for something a bit more kid-friendly, you may want to try Nightmare on Leamington, a “haunted house” set for 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 and 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 at Our Lady of the Snows School, 4810 S. Leamington.
Admission is $5 per person, and food and beverages will be available.
- Could not believe my ears or eyes as I watched the Oct. 7 Queen of Hearts jackpot at Tom’s Tap. For the 50th consecutive draw, the Queen remained in hiding. The lucky winner that week (Amanda F.) drew the Joker and took home just over $40,000. Wow! Just four hiding spots remain (41,42, 44 and 54), and the jackpot is still over $800,000 at St. Faustina Kowalska Parish. Well, this week’s edition of the Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound was printed before the Oct. 14 drawing. The Queen of Hearts drawing is held every Saturday at Tom’s Tap, 6707 W. Archer, one of the best neighborhood bars you’ll find anywhere. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at the parish office or at Tom’s Tap. This is a split the pot (50/50) raffle. Proceeds benefit the parish.
That’s all for now. Always pleased to share the news of Clearing and Garfield Ridge. Just call me, and I’ll do my best to work with you.
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