MINOOKA – One year into his cancer treatments, Minooka Intermediate School student Preston Klug decided to help other children going through his same situation and include his school to make a bigger impact.
“It was a lot better if my whole school did it. If it was just my class, It would not be as fun, I feel, and it shows that the whole school cares,” Klug said.
Klug's fifth grade teacher Renee Heide said he began the year nervous as he was undergoing treatments and had lost his hair. Heide said she always noticed a passion to help others, but never spoke of his cancer until a few months ago, so when he had the idea to give back and open up about his situation, the two worked and launched a project.
“He said, ‘I think I’m ready to give back. I think I will be okay and I know people can’t afford the things I had in treatment,’” Heide said. “So, Preston, his mom and I came up with a list of things to collect and we also sold bracelets.”
Klug said he chose to ask the school to donate items that helped him when he was not well in the hospital. He said lip balm was necessary because once his lips cracked, viruses could enter and he said families should not have that worry. Next, he asked for Biotene mouthwash because during his treatments, Klug said mouth sores were common.
“The Biotene keeps your mouth from getting dry, keeps it clean. I have had mouth sores before, but these are worse-especially when people are struggling,” he said.
Last, the students brought in Press N’ Seal plastic wrap, normally used to cover food, but in the case of a cancer patient, it helps keep the clothes clean after the application of Lidocaine to numb the skin over the port, a device used to draw blood and give treatments.
“We want to give this to families so they don’t have to pay for it, or if they don’t have enough, they won’t have to go out and buy it,” Preston said.
Preston said they will also put labels on all of the Press N’ Seal boxes to say Preston Seal, because when his mother, Lori, told Klug’s aunt about the product, she thought Lori said Preston Seal and it has become a family joke.
Klug said he will take the donations from the bracelet sales and donated items to Advocate Children’s Hospital, Keyser Family Pediatric Cancer Center in Oak Lawn because that’s where he currently takes treatments.
Klug’s father, Ken Klug, said in March of 2018 his son was treated twice for a sinus infection and after both rounds of antibiotics failed and his eyes were swollen, his doctor ordered a CT scan. On April 9, 2018 the scan showed something behind Preston’s eye in the orbital bone.
“Preston had a biopsy where they drilled a hole in the skull, pulled a piece out, it would be terrifying for any parent. Some medical professionals say it’s a form of cancer and some say it’s neurological, either way, it’s treated the same,” Ken said.
He was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, or LCH and began chemotherapy treatments. Preston said the worst part was the life change.
“When I started chemo my hair fell out, I knew I was going into surgery and I was nervous, the side effects-my stomach would kill me and I would be huddled up on the couch, but I took pills to help. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “June 13 is my last chemo treatment, I am feeling normal now, and my hair grew back.”
"This makes me feel good, it’s good to know that people support me and care about me, that makes me feel good," Preston said after the drive after was over. “Mrs. Heide is the best teacher I could ask for, she always gives me hugs and in my class everyone is nice.”
Heide said, “As a teacher I strive to help kids reach their goals, whether those goals are academic, emotional or social in nature. I feel really good about this one-what a success, not only for Preston, but for all of us here at MIS. We collected 1,249 items and sold over 1,500 wristbands ($1 each) to help Preston reach his goal of paying it forward.”
Preston lives in Shorewood with his parents Lori and Ken and siblings Ethan, Colin and Avery. He plays soccer and likes the goalie position because of its intensity and can try to control the game with block shots.