On September 1st Headbands of Hope kicked off its annual celebration for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Endless pictures, hash tags, and tweets flooded social media to support #HeadbandDay2015. One post included a picture of Alison and her fighter friend Cheyenne, a 10-year-old girl battling T-Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. Alison purchased a Kimono Tie for her in the hopes that they would win one to match. We decided to do just that and share their amazing story – the perfect way to end #DoubleDonation week and #ChildhoodCancerAwareness month.
Cancer research has been an important mission for Alison since the age of 9 when her father passed away from colon cancer.
During treatment, Alison’s father would share with her how unimaginable it was for children to endure what he was going through. In honor of his life, Alison and her family started a charity golf tournament to raise money for childhood cancer research. “That’s when I started to understand the need and importance of raising awareness for kids with cancer,” she said.
About two years ago, Alison was in search for a new job and connected with a friend that worked with St. Baldrick’s. “When you are able to combine your everyday work life with something you’re passionate about,” Alison shared, “you know it’s the perfect fit.”
Her current work with St. Baldrick's social media ultimately introduced Alison to Cheyenne. Since she lost her hair from treatment, Cheyenne posted a video right after shaving her head. In the video, Cheyenne pulls off a beanie and puts up her fists as the words "fight like a girl" (her own motto during treatment) appear across the screen.
After Alison watched the video, she reached out to ask if they could share it on St. Baldrick’s page. When the time came to feature an Honored Kid for their September video, Alison knew Cheyenne was it. Both she and their videographer, Matt, visited with Cheyenne in the hospital and spent the entire day filming to learn her story. Cheyenne even took them to her home so they could get to know the girl beyond hospital doors.
“She showed me the real side to her,” said Alison, “not the childhood cancer, hospital side – but the fish loving, flute playing, book obsessed, trampoline jumping, regular kid side.”
Although they only met about a month ago, Alison said Cheyenne makes her feel like they've known each other for years. Just last week, the two met up again to visit Elope, a local supporter of St. Baldrick’s that makes their Leprechaun hats, and ate at Cheyenne’s favorite restaurant after.
About the same age as she was when her father underwent treatment, Alison acknowledged the noticeable maturity, strength and positivity within a girl battling such a disease.
“The knowledge she has on every drug going into her body, the courage she has to tell doctors to do whatever they need to do, and the strength I’ve seen her give her parents is more than I think I could have ever done at her age.”
Although September is ending, childhood cancer awareness does not have to. “Sometimes life throws us a challenge,” shared Alison, “and we have to fight like a girl” as Cheyenne does every single day. And she could not look any more adorable in her Kimono Tie while doing it :)