Community supporting Strawberry Park student facing cancer relapse |

Community supporting Strawberry Park student facing cancer relapse

Strawberry Park Elementary third-grader Sofia Scherff-Zamora.

— A Strawberry Park Elementary School third-grader is fighting a relapse after spending more than a year presumably cancer-free.

Sofia Scherff-Zamora was initially diagnosed with Stage III kidney cancer in March 2015, and after undergoing radiation therapy at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver and months of weekly chemotherapy treatments at Yampa Valley Medical Center, she was thought to be cancer-free.

A year later, she’s back in Denver with the cancer having spread to her lungs, a change that upgrades her status to Stage IV.

Last week she underwent her first chemotherapy treatment, which, along with radiation treatments, is expected to continue every three weeks for the next five months, all in Denver.

“It’s going to be more challenging than last time, and the doctors are keeping a closer eye on her,” said Eric Scherff, Sofia’s father. “It’s not a good sign to spread like that, but the doctor told us its curable, and that’s how we’re approaching it.”

When Sofia’s family first learned about her cancer last March, community members stepped up to support the family emotionally and financially.

Children and adults organized fundraisers, including a dinner at Cugino’s, and a GoFundMe page generated thousands of dollars to help the family with medical bills and lost wages.

A new GoFundMe page, created Nov. 20 to support the family during the 8-year-old’s relapse, had been shared nearly 700 times during the past week and collected more than $7,500.

“The support has come from all over,” said Scherff, who listed a dozen businesses and organizations that helped after Sofia’s initial diagnoses and more that are offering their support during the relapse.

Help and support came from Johnny B. Good’s, Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports, Sanctuary Camp Inc., Strawberry Park Elementary School, Concordia Lutheran Church, Déjà vu and Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Nati Scherff-Zamora, Sofia’s mother, said she’s also gotten lots of support from her employer, Northwest Colorado Health, with staff checking in daily to see how Sofia is doing.

Between treatments, Sofia will return to class at Strawberry Park Elementary, a place where teachers and students have always been impressed with the young girl.

“Sofia is an amazing young lady with an incredible family,” said Chalsey Hodge, Sofia’s third-grade teacher. “Sofia is hard-working, kind, humble and above all, brave. She is constantly smiling, and she has kept her positive attitude through this latest challenge.”

Nati Scherff-Zamora said that, while the latest trip to the hospital has been hard on Sofia, her personality still shines through when she’s feeling good.

Sofia requested to her parents that after they return home from the first treatment they get to work writing thank you cards to everyone supporting the family.

“She’s very positive. She’s a go-getter, and nothing stops her,” Nati Scherff-Zamora said.

In terms of returning to school, Sofia’s parents said it will be extremely important that she doesn’t contract any illnesses from other students, due to her weakened immune system and low white blood cell count.

“It’s going to be really important for her not to get sick,” Scherff said. “So hopefully, everyone at school is using good hygiene and washing their hands.”

The family said they’re grateful for the continued support from the community, adding that the positive messages are helping Sofia.

“Steamboat is just an amazing community. We’re very appreciative,” Scherff said. “They’re really helping Sofia get through this.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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