A Fight that Never Stops


(Picture of Evan and his brother, Noah Pearlman, by Evan Pearlman)

Jadyn Forman

   When junior Evan Pearlman was just two years old, he was diagnosed with Burkitt Lymphoma. Now, after around 14 years of being cancer-free, Evan fights for a future where no kids have to go through the same experience he did by working with organizations like Make-A-Wish and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which had supported him during treatment.

  When he was young, a doctor discovered a mass in Evan’s stomach. Evan was diagnosed with Burkitt Lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer that begins in the immune cells.      

   Evan went through many procedures to become cancer-free, including getting his appendix removed and chemotherapy. While they may have been difficult, the surgeries were successful and after a long journey, Evan was officially declared cancer free.

   “It felt like for the first time that we were on our way back to some sort of almost normal life. Even though [he] had no hair,”Evan’s mother, Deborah White-Pearlman said.

   While undergoing treatment, Evan and his family received support from many people and organizations in the community. One of these organizations was Make-A-Wish, an organization known for granting “wishes” of children dealing with serious illness. Make-A-Wish sent Evan and his family to Walt Disney World. Now, Evan and his family give back to the community which supported his family during that difficult time.

   “My dad was on the Make-A-Wish board,” Evan said, “ [And] in 2019, I spoke at the main fundraising gala to try to help raise more money.”

   It is through his and his father’s work with Make-A-Wish that Evan was introduced to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS.) LLS is an organization that is dedicated to blood cancer research, however; it helps research treatments for many types of cancer. The research that LLS accomplish helps to create progress in the way cancer is treated.

   “The importance of science, research, that’s humongous,” Deborah said, “A new drug had come out a few years before [Evan] got sick and it really was a game changer for people with lymphoma.”

   Evan is taking part in the annual LLS Suncoast Student of the Year competition, where he is competing against other students to raise the most money for LLS. Evan’s goal is to raise at least $50,000 for cancer research. He has been posting to his social media, writing letters, and seeking out sponsors in order to reach this goal. He is already well on his way there with many days left in the competition. 

   “I’m over 30% of the way there to my overall goal,” Evan said, “a couple of big donations have helped boost my total.”

   Evan hopes to continue his support of cancer research into adulthood, with the help of his campaign advisor Niki de Jesus. He wants to help families going through similar experiences as his did.

   “When this campaign is over, she plans on having me guest speak, train the future people who are doing this,” Evan said, “Just passing on my experiences and hopefully getting involved in something like this in the future.

   The experience that Evan went through was instrumental to shaping his and his family’s life. While it was a terrifying time, it taught Evan and his families many lessons that they carry with them throughout their lives about the importance of appreciating what they have, what they’ve been through, and to be an advocate for something bigger than themselves. 

   “This is a part of our family fabric for always now. It changed the course of our family forever, in a scary way in the beginning but in a positive way that we are all in a position that we learned a lot from that and we want to make other people’s lives better as a result of that,” David said.

   “I’m forever grateful that I’m ok from that,”Evan said, “You know, it was just a really big obstacle in the road, but we got through it. It’s a big part of my life and I’m proud that I beat it.”

   To make a donation to Evan’s campaign or to learn more information about the cause: https://events.lls.org/sun/suncoastsoy21/epearlman