The holiday season around Christmas is a time to spend with family and loved ones. It’s a part of the year where many people set aside their differences and celebrate each other and their lives. Christmas can be a difficult time for cancer patients, along with many survivors: they can be stuck in the hospital, under quarantine, away from their loved ones, or bending under the weight of harsh side effect management. We would like to take a moment to show our appreciation for cancer advocates and survivors who have brought joy and laughter to those who have suffered from cancer:
Tanner’s childhood hasn’t been that of your typical 9-year-old, having fought two different cancers (acute myeloid leukemia and stage IV liver cancer), kidney disease, heart failure and receiving kidney and bone marrow transplants. Given so many battles with his health, Tanner has spent a large amount of time in the hospital. As a childhood cancer survivor, Tanner has a unique perspective of what it’s like for kids to be in the hospital: it makes it hard for them to get to be kids.
Launching Tanner’s Christmas Giving Project, he and his family began collecting donations for toys and games for children that will be in Primary Children’s Hospital over Christmas holidays: the same hospital that has treated Tanner. Gifts were handpicked by Tanner and family and given out to patients early, so that no one missed out. The Nielsens are a great example of a family that has been touched by cancer and wants to make it a little bit easier on other families and children, this Christmas season.
Now in its 27th year, the annual Christmas Party for Kids Surviving Cancer creates an afternoon in support of children in the community that have survived cancer and their families. North Side High School teachers and students work together to provide gifts, food, and entertainment for the families attending. Giving back to the community during the Christmas holidays allows volunteers to get to know their neighbours, as each family is paired up with one of the volunteers who takes care of them during the festivities. As a longstanding tradition for the school, North Side is doing a great service to children who have fought cancer and their families who have been right their beside them.
Losing a child to cancer is a devastating situation for any parent. Passing away during a fight with returning acute myeloid leukemia, their three-year-old son Hunter meant the world to them. Lenore and Todd wanted to immortalize their time with their son in a loving and positive way: The Healing Hunter Foundation was born. Throughout the year, the charity helps provide financial assistance, care packages, gifts and experiences for families who have a child fighting cancer.
During the Christmas holidays, the foundation decorates Doernbecher Children’s Hospital’s cancer ward. Along with their direct support to families, this helps lift the spirits of the children, families and hospital staff. It’s truly inspiring to see a family deeply affected by cancer helping others.
(Main image by Joe Buckingham)