Even when Kristine Tesauro talks about her leukemia, there’s a smile on her face.
Now the 21-year-old is trying to spread her love for life to other patients at the UC Davis Pediatric Cancer Center where she is undergoing treatment.
After Kristine was diagnosed last spring, she and her sister Brianna Tesauro started drawing animals and funny or inspirational sayings on t-shirts. Friends asked them to make more, and the sisters started giving them for free to other cancer patients at UC Davis. The Tesauros’ business, Catch Some Air, was born.
“We got too many orders when we set up our website, so we had to start printing instead of coloring on [the shirts], because that took way too long,” Kristine said.
On Friday, the Tesauros spent the morning at the UC Davis Pediatric Cancer Center, handing out t-shirts and get-well cards. They also drew funny animals on balloons and shot foam rockets into the air – anything to bring a smile to the children’s faces.
While Kristine wasn’t technically a child when she was diagnosed, doctors thought her particular type of leukemia would best be treated at the pediatric center. Kristine said the children there have been a source of strength for her.
“There’s so many super strong kids and that’s what made me see that if they can do this, I can definitely do this, too,” Kristine said.
Aireona Scheffler was one of the kids Kristine and Brianna visited with on Friday. Aireona received a blue shirt – her favorite color – and a card from the sisters while she received treatment for Crohn’s disease.
“It makes me feel happy. I’m not just someone who is sitting here ... I know other people care about me, and it just makes me feel loved,” Scheffler said.
UC Davis Child Life Specialist Ellen Meuchel said Kristine and Brianna are a hit with both staffers and patients.
“Even on the days Kristine isn’t feeling so great, she always finds a way to make everyone feel happy around her. So it’s great that on days they don’t have to be here, they’re choosing to come here and spread their happiness,” Meuchel said.