Benefit planned for Saugerties teen recovering from cancer

Taylor Block

Until November 2018, Taylor Block, now 16, was a typical teen who loved softball, skiing and the Jonas Brothers. But then she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a devastating bone cancer. After enduring over 15 surgical procedures to correct damage that weakened one of her legs, she is hopeful that she will be able to attend prom in May. She came back home to Saugerties three weeks ago after a 12-week stay at Sloan-Kettering in the intensive care unit.

The Saugerties Good Neighbor Campaign is hosting a benefit for Taylor on Sunday, Feb. 9. The group, headed by Patricia Rauh and Diane Cruz, raised thousands last year for the family of Leah Storm, now 4, who was born with congenital heart and renal failure and required a kidney transplant. This year, the group raised money for the family of Jeff Madelone, who needed a special van after his Lou Gehrig’s disease worsened.

“She’s very bright, she’s a sweet kid, all the moms just love her and say, ‘Taylor can come over any time she wants’, she’s always been like that,” said Christine Block of her daughter. “She’s a good student, she’s hilarious, she’s always making people laugh. She’s always been a bit of a talker. I would always get home and, you know the notes on the report cards? They would always say she talked a little bit too much, that’s the extent of the trouble she gets into.”

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Taylor’s first surgery was on Feb. 8 of last year — since, she has undergone more procedures to combat infection caused by plates and rods put in by surgeons to support her leg. According to her mother, she is currently on eight different antibiotics. While she is now cancer-free, the hardware causing the infection in her leg cannot be removed for another six to 12 months, until her bones fuse together and can stand on their own.

“You take two steps forward and then all of a sudden you take two steps back because something else is always thrown into the mix,” said Christine. “This kid, every single time she got chemo she had to get into the hospital for a week. She had cellulitis a couple of times. She got c-diff. Anything that she could catch, it was crazy. She had a chemo stroke last year … It’s just been very stressful on her. She’s finally feeling a little bit of normalcy since we’ve been home. Her friends come and see her. Her friends are all driving, she still doesn’t. She gets out with them a little more. She’s behind about a year [in school work]. She’s supposed to be halfway through 11th grade, she’s only halfway through 10th.”

At 3:30 p.m. this Sunday, Feb. 9, a benefit to raise money toward the Block family’s expenses will be held at St. John the Evangelist Church at 915 Route 212, in the form of a Valentine’s Dance. A pasta dinner with homemade meatballs and sausage, along with desserts donated by local bakers, will be served. A 50/50 raffle will take place, along with a silent auction. Raffle tickets for a grand prize of $1,000 are currently available for purchase at Sawyer Motors, Frank’s Village Jewelers and Town and Country Liquors.

Donations of $250, $500 or $1000 from individuals or corporate sponsors can be made via check payable to the Sawyer Motors Foundation, 501c for tax purposes. The address is Sawyer Motors Foundation, POB 320, Saugerties, NY 12477 — please note Taylor’s name at the bottom of the check.

Any further questions can be fielded by Patricia Rauh at (845) 532-3538 or Diane Cruz at (914) 388-4948.

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