DES MOINES -- A cancer diagnosis is bad for anyone. But may be the worst for a child. They many times feel like an outcast, and it's a painful thing.
But you can help a little with that. A great event is coming up in Des Moines later this month for Children's Cancer Connection. They help families keep their lives on track -- families like the Andersons.
"I couldn't help but to get a little teary eyed that the first camp he was ever going to attend was an oncology camp," said Alissa Anderson, mother a child with cancer.
That's a shocking reality only the parents of a child with cancer will ever understand. It happened to the Andersons of St. Charles. One day their 8 year old son Reagan was the picture of health. The next, his life was threatened and he was dealing with the unpleasant affects of chemotherapy.
"Well I wasn't really happy because I hated the taste and I just did not feel good," said Reagan. But Children's Cancer Connection swooped in to help another family understand childhood cancer and support them in the many ways their lives were about to change.
Maybe the biggest thing they do all year long is provide the kids a free summer camp. "It didn't cost us a dime," said Reagan's dad Mike. "And what they got out of it is so much more than any other camp we could have sent them to. He was able to go to camp where there are doctors and nurses and people who care and other kids who are going through cancer just like him."
The week-long camp each summer is the best week of the year for most kids with a diagnosis. And even though Reagan found out about his cancer only a couple weeks before camp, this intuitive 8 year old knew right away that he was somewhere special.
"I was glad because I knew that I wasn't alone and I knew that other people were there to support me," Reagan said.
And then something amazing happened. Reagan responded amazingly well to his chemo. So well that he was declared cancer free just three months later, something that's rarely seen.
"It was a few months," his mom Alissa said. "We only had to walk in the shoes of cancer for a few months. So to know it didn't have to be a really long drawn out process was just surreal.
And though Reagan's been cancer free for six months now, he won't dare miss camp this year so he can support those who are getting a week-long respite from their cancer battles.
"It just felt like a place to have a blast," Mike said. "It was a blast!" added Reagan.
Join Local 5 for a wonderful event later this month. This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Children's Cancer Connection. And as the name suggests, it helps raise money for the kids to go to that fabulous week-long camp this summer. It's Thursday, February 25th. All the information is at the website childrenscancerconnection.org.
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