Gabriel Gocobachi creates superhero to battle cancer cells in sick kids

August 3, 2016 | by Michael Easterling

 

Breakthroughs - Gabriel Gocobachi - Super Cellular Pictured: Top to bottom: Gabriel with his book; book cover; gene therapy professor Kevin Morris; Gabriel and his mom, Jill.

 

Sometimes, you need a superhero. Someone to swoop in and make you feel better, safer and more in control. Nowhere are the powers or protection of a superhero more welcomed than when battling a life-threatening illness like cancer.  

Gabriel Gocobachi was just two-and-a-half when he asked his mother, Jill, why there wasn’t a superhero to take care of his friend who was being treated at City of Hope for a rare form of lung cancer.

“‘Mom, we need a superhero to fight for sick kids,’ he said to me” Jill says. “We were visiting Gabriel's friend on campus when he was getting chemotherapy, and right then and there ‘Super Cellular’ was created.” Gabriel sat on his mom’s lap and together they came up with a story and artwork for their first children’s book, "The Adventures of Super Cellular."

“He’s the smallest superhero in the universe,” says Gabriel, now 10. “He’s transforming bad guys into great guys, sick cells into healthy cells.” In the beginning, he was a single white cell destined to thwart evil cancer cells with his super powers by traveling inside a patient’s body and destroying disease. 

As Gabriel grew, so did his creation. Today, Super Cellular is a fully illustrated caped crusader with a sidekick named “Super C,” a girlfriend named “Celu,” a blog and a Twitter account. Plans are in the works for a comic book and animated web series.  He also has his own website featuring instructional and entertaining guided imagery, and free games such as “Bad Cells Be Gone,” which show Super Cellular eradicating cancer cells.

Gabriel also created the “Super Cellular Award for Bravery & Excellence,” a certificate that has been handed out in the pediatrics unit at City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital.

“I think it is great way for kids to channel their inner strength in tough times – and also to get fabulous exposure to the concept of cellular therapies,” says Kevin Morris, Ph.D., professor and associate director in the Center for Gene Therapy, who reviewed the book. Numerous clinical studies report the importance of mindfulness and guided imagery in improving recovery rates in patients.

So what did Gabriel's friend think of the superhero the he inspired? “He always liked the idea of the superhero,” says Gabriel of his friend, whom he met at a playground in Sherman Oaks, California. He has recovered and now lives in Atlanta. Gabriel says his childhood friend loves dinosaurs and wants to be an archeologist when he grows up.

As for Super Cellular’s alter ego, Gabriel? He has his sights set on being a digital game designer. With his experience with Super Cellular, he’s got a shot. To hear Gabriel read his book, click here. 

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