WXYZ — A heartwarming show of support for childhood cancer survivors took place on the first Saturday of June. Children’s Hospital of Michigan hosted its 26th annual Childhood Cancer Survivor Day at CJ Barrymore's in Clinton Township.
7 Action News Anchor Dave LewAllen served as Program Host of the Celebration of Life. The event is a celebration of triumph — and a chance to make sure every child knows they’re loved, supported and a survivor every step of the way.
“We’ll ring the bell for each and every one of you survivors with us today or those who are completing treatment or will complete your treatment,” LewAllen announced.
The annual tradition quickly led to excitement and smiles.
Every year in Michigan, around 470 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to dedicated researchers, doctors, and nurses, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the survival rate has greatly improved in the last three decades.
Community support makes a big difference.
“We’ve gotten feedback from this event before and a lot of the kids say this is where no one looks at them differently,” Wendi Henning told 7 Action News.
The Pediatric Oncology Social Worker at Children’s Hospital says survivors are invited to speak every year. Their words — serving a very important purpose.
“Every year our kids who are currently going through treatment can hear the stories of what the survivors are doing now. Some of them have gone on to be doctors, nurses, social workers, engineers.”
Henning says children also hear from survivors who still face various struggles. The survivors share different ways they manage those challenges while trying to stay positive.
After the emotional and inspiring Celebration of Life program hosted by Dave LewAllen, families got a chance to enjoy free go-karting, putt-putt golf, rock climbing and several games. A game called “Payback” proved to be a favorite. Kids got a chance to line up and squirt water at their Oncologists and Nurses.
Each child went home with a medal and a t-shirt, marking another year of survivorship.
“This day is really, truly a labor of love for them. All our staff are here volunteering on a Saturday,” Henning shared.
At CJ Barrymore’s on Saturday, kids got a chance to be kids. But for so many survivors and children still undergoing treatment, regular school and play are often interrupted.
Major treatment advances are being made, but more research is paramount. The cause of most childhood cancers is often unknown. According to the state health department, only around 5% of childhood cancers are caused by a genetic mutation passed from parents to their child.
The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation could use your support. Every donation makes a difference — and goes toward research, education, and community.