A senior at Fruitland High School was in for quite the surprise on Tuesday when she received an unexpected FaceTime call from Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States.
The reason? Biden wanted to encourage her to continue to fight through her leukemia, as the student is in her final round of chemotherapy for the next few weeks.
Cierra Shaffer, along with her care team, had filled her room with photos of Biden as inspiration, according to a news release from the St. Luke’s Health System. Shaffer has been going through several months of treatment at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Boise.
“Although it may seem unusual for a 17-year-old, Shaffer says she admires Biden for the work he’s done to support cancer research after the death of his son, Beau Biden, who died from brain cancer,” the release reads.
A recent conversation with Shaffer revealed the high school student had two goals through her cancer treatment: walk in her upcoming May graduation, and meet and share mint chocolate chip ice cream with Biden.
In a roundabout way, one of those goals was met on Tuesday, but accomplished through a great deal of effort from St. Luke’s doctors, nurses and St. Luke’s Health System public relations manager Anita Kissée, through social media. Within hours, the tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts had been shared around the country with #cierrastrong before Biden’s team got wind of Shaffer’s story, and shared it with the former vice president.
On the day of the call, wearing a Biden mask and followed by a nurse with mint chocolate chip ice cream, Shaffer’s favorite teacher surprised her by running into her room with the former vice president himself on the phone.
“I was like, holy cow! A little Idahoan girl talking to a big shot Vice President… I’m like dang,” Shaffer recalled, according to the release.
The call was about 15 minutes, and was private.
Shaffer was so overwhelmed by the call, she didn’t remember everything that Biden said.
“It was exciting. I’m pretty sure he told me I’ll beat this, but I already know that. Hahaha! Just an extra boost I guess,” Shaffer said, according to a tweet Kissée posted on her Twitter page.
Biden’s response was forthcoming.
“Cierra, you remembered the most important thing I had to say,” Biden wrote in response. “You will beat this.”
He added about the care team in charge of Shaffer: “…as I’ve always said, if there are any angels in heaven, they are nurses. You’ve got a great team of them there making sure you stay #cierrastrong.”