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Nonprofit surprises Ankeny girl battling cancer with the ultimate 'happy place'

My Happy Places, along with various sponsors and donors, created a bedroom makeover for Savannah, a 14-year-old with leukemia.

DES MOINES, Iowa — When 14-year-old Savannah Gunn found out she had leukemia over the summer, she spent many days at the hospital instead of the pool or out on the golf course.

After two rounds of chemotherapy at Blank Children's Hospital, she had to travel to Minneapolis for a bone marrow transplant, which meant several more months in the hospital, away from her home in Ankeny. She couldn't go back until her immune system strengthened, and even then she would have to spend months in isolation as the re-vaccination process begins.

That's where My Happy Places comes in. 

Savannah had been dreaming of rearranging her room and was eager to have her own space back after spending so much time in a hospital bed. Her aunt nominated her for a room makeover from the nonprofit, and the team got to work.

"We always say we are so sorry there's a reason to do this, but so grateful that with the community involvement that we get in our sponsors, we get to add a little sunshine to their life," said Lisa Tan, the executive director at My Happy Places - Mason City.

Savannah's mom, Shawna Gunn, said it's been difficult for their family, but the community is always there to pick them up.

"This is amazing," she said. "This was just something we could give to Savannah to look forward to when the days were really hard. Just this amazing, kind of light at the end of the tunnel for her to come home to."

Savannah came home Saturday to her new "happy place."

"I don't even know what I was expecting, but this is just awesome," Savannah said, lighting up when she saw her new room. "It's been really tough. But I have a village behind me that's been keeping me going and everybody's just so supportive, and it really helps."

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