Cancer touches all of us in different ways. Sometimes, the realization that some people have to deal with unimaginable obstacles inspires action that creates change. When it comes to selflessly helping those who have cancer, family members, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and complete strangers often come up with incredible ways to make a difference. And their contributions are not just directed towards people who have cancer; they are also channeling their efforts towards the organizations that help them – either medically or in other ways, and facilities that work to find a cure through research. Here are some feel-good stories that show the difference that one person can make!
How an Ad about Childhood Illness Inspired a Child to Help Kids
There is something extraordinary about an eight-year-old who is inspired to do something after seeing a commercial about pediatric cancer. Inspired by the commercial, Christian McPhilamy let his hair grow for 2 ½ years so he could cut it off and donate it to a charity that makes and supplies children with hairpieces. The boy endured taunts from adults and other kids, but he didn’t give up. People teased him about looking like a girl, but he still didn’t waver. Christian is a hero now to many who see his determination as an inspiration to them.
Hair Stylists and Hospital Workers Join Forces to Help Kids Who Lose Their Hair
When a young Chicago cancer patient started to lose her hair, she decided to cut it all off so she could donate her hair to help other cancer patients. Prentice Women’s Hospital held an event called “Making the Cut.” People who worked at the hospital participated in the event by cutting their hair off to donate it to organizations that made hair pieces for cancer patients.
William Reinke, a co-owner of the East Lakeview Restoration Salon and Kate Jotzat, owner of Chroma 8 Boutique in Lincoln Square, are helping the Wigs for Kids charity by donating hair that they cut off of the heads of their customers. Both stylists remind their clients that their hair will grow back, but the gift they give through their donation means more than they will ever know.
Dad Channels Son’s Tragic Death into Fundraising Foundation
In 2007, John Rivera, who is now 52 years old, received the news that no parent ever wants to get. He learned that his four-year-old son had a rare form of cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pointine Glioma (DIPG). The disease is so rare that it only affects 300 children each year. The five-year survival rate is less than 1%.
After Cristian Rivera died in 2009, John, who is known in the music production and promotion industry as “Gungie,” created the Cristian Rivera Foundation to raise money to support hospitals and research organizations that work to find a cure for this rare pediatric cancer. On Wednesday, November 17, 2016, the foundation held its 8th Annual Fundraising Gala. John Rivera used his industry connections to promote the foundation he created in his son’s memory.
Giving Cancer Patients a Hand Crocheted Blanket at the End of Treatment
The St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital Cancer Center in Anderson Indiana gives cancer patients some mementos at the end of their last treatment. When Kay Smelser decided to get rid of the stockpile of afghans she amassed over the years from her crochet hobby, her niece, Renee Creason came up with a solution. Creason works at the hospital, so she knew what to do with the full-size blankets. They are part of the departure goody bag that the hospital gives out. Smelser will keep crocheting, so patients can continue to receive her beautiful handmade afghans as a reminder of their journey.
A Six-Year-Old Cancer Patient Raises Money at a Hot Cocoa Stand
On December 26, 2016, The Today Show featured a segment about six-year-old Matthew McDonnell. Matthew suffers from a pediatric kidney tumor known as Wilms Tumor. Matthew’s cancer is Stage IV. He’s undergone surgery, chemo, radiation and immunotherapy trial treatments. Matthew told his mother that he wanted to have a hot cocoa stand to raise money to help kids with cancer. His father built the stand and got permission from the South Abington Township authorities near Scranton PA to use a park. Local businesses, friends, and family members rallied to his aid, providing cookies, donuts and paper goods. Matthew’s family provided all of the hot cocoa. The stand was set up on Saturday, December 10th, the only free Saturday that Matthew had. Matthew’s stand raised a total of $6500 which they donated to Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
You don’t have to be related to someone who has cancer or knows them to make a difference in their lives. People from hospital workers to hair stylists, retired grandmothers who like to crochet, or kids who care can find unique ways to help those who are dealing with cancer. The satisfaction of helping people is a reward in and of itself. So ask yourself, “What can you do to make a difference?”