Seven-year-old Devon became part of a club no child wants to belong to when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2022. Fortunately, Devon beat her cancer in April this year, and had been looking forward to celebrating health with other pediatric cancer survivors from Children’s Hospital of Michigan (CHM) at Celebration of Life.
On June 3, CHM held its 27th Annual Childhood Cancer Survivor Day – Celebration of Life at Paradise Park in Novi, Mich with more than 900 guests! This event brings together pediatric cancer survivors and fighters – and those that helped them along their journey including family members, doctors, clinicians, and hospital staff— for a day of fun and camaraderie. While driving go-carts and playing countless arcade games, the kids got to be the kids they missed while fighting illness. Most importantly, they found hope, support, and bond in the unique commonality that brought them there.
In addition to the physical toll life-threatening illness takes on the body, the residual emotional and mental struggles kids face are equally difficult and last far beyond a healthy diagnosis. To ensure the whole child is cared for, The Children’s Foundation supports wellness efforts, like Celebration of Life, at Children’s Hospital of Michigan that would not exist but for philanthropy.
For Devon, Celebration of Life was a focal point she could look to while struggling with sickness. In addition to pizza and ice cream, she was looking forward to the bell ringing ceremony so she and other kids could mark significant milestones in their battles. As part of the ceremony, kids and families shared stories and memories, thanked doctors and staff, and encouraged those still fighting – one long-term survivor shared that she would be starting medical school in the Fall, encapsulating the event’s message that though cancer leaves an impact on your life, it doesn’t define you.
Wellness efforts at CHM like this allow kids to celebrate their strength and feel understood and supported regardless of their physical condition.