Criss Angel Gives an Update on 6-Year-Old Son's Cancer Battle During Coronavirus Pandemic
In a recent interview with Extra, the Las Vegas-based illusionist opened up about how he and partner Shaunyl Benson are focused on practicing social distancing at home with their sons Xristos Yanni, 17 months, and Johnny Crisstopher, 6 — especially given the context of their older child's ongoing cancer battle.
"Kids that are going through pediatric cancer obviously have the challenge of dealing with that but when you underscore that with the pandemic, it's really a double threat," said Angel, 52. "Families that have gone through pediatric cancer have been practicing hand washing, hand sanitizing, sanitizing areas when you go out to eat in a restaurant and social distancing."
"Because usually your child has immune-system deficiencies, and for Johnny Crisstopher and other children going through what he's going through, it can be dire — life-threatening," added the father of two.
"For the most part," he said, "we've been hunkering down at home and doing the quarantine thing because we don't want to take any chances with our son, except for when he goes to the hospital to do a blood transfusion or to Cure 4 The Kids here in Vegas two to three times a week. "
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"We've been really spending a lot of time [together as a] family," he continued. "We're trying to make the most of the situation and trying to provide incredible memories for Johnny Crisstopher and our other son, Xristos Yanni, so when they get older they can think about these times that were challenging, but we made something positive come from it: memories."
To that end, Angel explained that he has been focused on creating a "miniature world" for his sons, which he described as "an illusionary world" consisting in part of "a slot car and a train set."
In the meantime, the magician has also been working with his Johnny Crisstopher Children's Charitable Foundation to help benefit employees at Cure 4 The Kids' "wonderful pediatric clinic" in Las Vegas — many of whom have "lost their job" due to the ongoing global health crisis.
"They had to make decisions no one should ever be faced with: 'Am I gonna buy a drug to treat my son or daughter or am I gonna put food on the table?' " Angel told Extra, revealing that the foundation has helped by providing "over 50,000 meals for 150 families for approximately eight weeks" in an effort to "help these families in our community with this very difficult situation that they're in."
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Over the past six months, Angel and Benson have shared glimpses at Johnny's treatment and how they have been coping as a family, from trips together to explaining the condition to their son and keeping a positive outlook.
"We try to talk to him with optimism and hope and support and the big keyword — is everything for us — is love and God. Like faith," Angel said on The Doctors With Travis Stork podcast in March. "I believe if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can move a mountain. We just want our son to be healed. And we believe he will be healed, and, so we talk to him in a way that … he can understand, but we keep it optimistic."
"We keep it with love and hope and I keep things for him incentivized so that he can get through these little hurdles, look forward to something, get through the next one," he continued. "Look forward to something to get through the time period."
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