Stanford student with cancer helps young fellow patient

A young East Bay woman fighting cancer herself is also waging a touching battle on behalf of a very young girl with the same rare disease.

Brooke Vittimberga got to know the little girl, 18-month old Abry Yocum, when she was hospitalized on the same unit receiving treatment for the same rare form of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia.

Brooke is now in remission and stays in touch with her little friend.

"On Halloween they were painting her nails orange and white. She kept wiping off all the white. She just wanted the orange. It was so cute," said Vittimberga.

But Brooke wants to do more for Abri than play with her.

Tuesday was Brooke's 20th birthday. On the Stanford University campus where she is a biology major, Brooke and her friends organized a bone marrow donor drive.

Brooke wasn't well enough to attend, but she says she was fortunate her brother was a match and was able to donate bone marrow. Abri is still looking for a suitable donor.

Finding a proper bone marrow match is difficult. The odds are one in 500. There are 12,000 people on the waiting list.

Brooke's friend Anna Zappone co-organized the event at Stanford.

"We know we're doing good and helping her by at least supporting her and showing her how much the Stanford community cares," said Zappone.

At the donor drive, there was also a table where people could buy special bracelets with the money going to Abri's family, who must travel from Reno.

"They're yellow which symbolizes pediatric cancer. And there is an elephant charm which symbolizes strength," said Brooke.

And strength is what Brooke and Abri appear to have plenty of.

Interested parties who wish to contribute to Abri's Gofundme site can click here. Those who would like to register to be a bone-marrow donor can do so here.