• Know that I am a cancer survivor and have had more than 30 surgeries

    Know that I wonder if I will be successful in life

    Know that I hear cancer will be cured one day

    Know that I see myself as a biomedical engineer

    Know that I want a long lasting life

    Know that I am a cancer survivor and have had more than 30 surgeries

    Know that I pretend to be a doctor

    Know that I feel sorry for abused animals

    Know that I serve a bigger purpose

    Know that I worry about my future

    Know that I laugh at comedy shows

    Know that I am a cancer survivor and have had more than 30 surgeries

    Know that I wish to be a biomedical engineer

    Know that I say cancer WILL be cured

    Know that I dream of being proud of my future

    Know that I try my best in everything

    Know that I hope to be successful

    Know me

  • My Friend “Dodger”

    I remember…I remember sitting in my bed at ‘Hotel’  Valley Children’s Hospital (VCH), when who should walk in, but my elementary school best friend’s brother.  He was wearing a hospital volunteer outfit, and brightened my day as soon as he entered the room.  I had been in the hospital about a week, feeling terrible the entire time, but when Matt walked in, I somehow felt 100% better.  We talked for a while and he convinced me to get up and go down to the class room.  Down to the class room we walked (I.V. stand and all), talking the entire way.  After playing on the computer for a while, I began to feel sick, back to my ‘hotel’ room I went.  After throwing up for a while, Matt rejoined me and we talked some more;  I thoroughly enjoyed his company.

    That was fall of ’95, soon after Matt relapsed for the third time.  He was determined, though, to make it to one of his favorite places on earth, Camp Sunshine Dreams in August of the next year.  August finally came, I did not have any way of getting to Huntington Lake, where camp is held, so I called on my good friend Matt who was delighted to give me a ride.  I arrived at his house early Saturday morning, all packed and ready to go – but he wasn’t; he still had a few more things to cram into the back of that little pick up of his.  About a half an hour later, we were ready to make our way up to camp.

    Matt had so much ‘junk’ in his truck that I had to ride up in his mother’s van, also full to the brim, with his mom.  Because he had so much stuff in it, and the fact that it had not been running well lately, his truck overheated once we got to the mountains.  Moreover, we became forced to wait with it until it cooled off enough to drive again.

    The counselors, staff, and I arrived at the camp site around lunch time.  The campers would not arrive for another two days; we had a lot of preparations to make.  After we ate, Matt let the staff through some confidence building activities.  Being an Olympic year, Matt, and others, decided on decorating the camp like the Olympics.  The most important thing about the Olympics, the torch, which I and a few other gentlemen built.  The one restriction we had on the production of the torch – “build it according to Matt’s orders,” that we did.  Construction proved to be fairly hazardous.  First, the use of power tools, and secondly, power tools in the rain!  Working, though, through the rain, and whatever else nature threw at us, we eventually completed the torch.  Matt’s specifications created the “best torch of the summer,” said the camp’s care-taker, and the rest of us agreed.

    The torch took longer than expected to build, late to bed and early to rise, in order to finish it by the time the buses arrived.  After the children exited the buses, they looked for their luggage.  After finding their luggage they needed to find their counselor.  Matt stood by helping to unite camper with counselor, making sure everyone was taken care of.  After all of the campers finished settling into their cabins, and had a little time to relax, the lunch bell rang;  within a minute everyone was silent and in straight lines. Cabin groups only waited for Matt’s “okay” to enter the cafeteria.  Group by group, Matt let people inside, the straightest and most quiet group went in first.  Before everyone ate, Matt made some announcements.  For all of the new campers, the rules of the cafeteria were set forth.  Some said a prayer, then we ate.

    At the campfire later that evening I learned of a camp tradition called “spirit stick;” each cabin group finds a stick, and cabin members carve on it while the others listen to their story about cancer.  Each camper carves on the stick, letting the shavings fall into a bandana.  On the last night of camp everyone gathers around the fire, throws their shavings and stick into it, and lets all of their feelings go free.  Each year the ashes are saved in a can, and at the first campfire they are thrown back in, so to preserve the spirit from the very first campfire to infinity.  Because cancer is deadly, some campers don’t make it from one year to the next; through this camp, spirit stick, and the ashes, their memories live on forever.

    Today I repaid Matt for the support he gave me a year ago; today Matt lay in the hospital bed instead of me.  I went to the Hospital, after enduring my chemo from the clinic, to say hello.  I wrote on a dry erase board, since he had lost most of his hearing due to the tumors.  I wrote “hello.”  He smiled and practically yelled, “hello” back to me.  Then he showed me his picture and autograph books: full of pictures of movie stars, professional ball players, famous people, and much much more.  I stayed for about a half hour, we watched some TV, and talked a while, but then I had to go;  I hope he enjoyed my company.


  • Dear Camper,

    My first year as a camper, I was 8 years old and was going through chemotherapy. At first I was scared to go because I did not know what to expect nor did I know anyone going. I remember arriving at camp and exiting the bus and being greeted by so many smiley faces. There were so many kids but some of them were bald just like me! Then I was put in a group with kids my age and two counselors and that is when the fun began.

    There were so many different activities during the week of camp, swimming, archery, arts and crafts and music. The first night we arrived there was a camp fire, so make sure to bring warm clothes. Expect to gain some weight because the food is great and there are tons of snacks throughout the day. I made so many friends while at camp, some who had cancer like me and some who had brothers or sisters with cancer. I remember one of my favorite days being Thursday night, which was a dance. It was fun to get out on the dance floor all dressed up and be a normal kid. My counselors also made some time for this thing we call “spirit stick”. As a cabin you pick a stick and get to carve on it. You can choose to tell a story about how cancer has affected you or simply carve just for fun. On the last camp fire you get to put the carvings and stick into the camp fire. Staff later collects the ashes and now you are part of camp, forever!

    At the end of the week I was very sad because camp was over. I had to say good bye too many friends and the countdown began for next year! “It was the best week ever” and now 20 years later, I hear that from many campers and know you will say the same when you leave camp. So what you can expect is one of the best weeks of your life!!

  • Dear Camper,

    When I first attended Camp Sunshine Dreams, I couldn’t believe that such a wonderful place existed.  Camp was more fun than I could have ever imagined.  There were so many fun things to do like arts and crafts, campfires, archery, sailing, time at the waterfront, and a camp dance.  My favorite were the campfires!  We sang silly songs, watched and performed hilarious skits and really bonded together as a camp.

    Before I went to camp for my very first time, I was a little nervous to be away from my parents and also nervous because I didn’t know too many other kids there.  After I got to camp and met all of the counselors and other kids, I knew I had nothing to worry about.  Everyone was so nice and caring.  The best part of camp to me was simply being surrounded by other kids that knew exactly what it was like to have cancer.  None of my friends at home knew what that was like, but the kids at camp did.  I loved whenever the entire camp was together, whether it was at campfire, eating in the cafeteria, or at the waterfront.  It felt great just to be an other “typical” kid there.  When I was at camp, I wasn’t the one that was different or sick.  No one cared if I looked different and I could talk to lots of other kids about stuff at the hospital or the things I was going through.

    I think when you’re a kid with cancer, your one wish is to just be normal.  For one week, when I was at camp, this wish was granted.

    Oh yeah, and the food is really good too!!