Lillian Draper is a strong little girl. At just six years old, she is being treated for a rare kidney cancer called Wilms' Tumor. In August, Lillian complained of pain in her lower back and doctors discovered tumors on her kidney and in her lungs. "They removed her whole kidney and nine lymphnodes," explains her mother, Kelsey. She went on to say Lillian will need six more months of chemotherapy. Lillian has already lost all her hair and quite a bit of weight, but her eyes still shine bright and her smile is contagious. Lillian admits, treatment is scary, especially when doctors administer chemo, but she draws strength from a little buddy she calls Hopsy. "How does Hopsy make you feel better?" I ask. "By hugging me," Lillian shares with a grin.
Hopsy is a pink and green stuffed bunny. She was given to Lillian shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. In fact, every newly-diagnosed child who visits the Northern Nevada Children's Cancer Foundation receives a care package with a homemade blanket and a Snuggle Buddy, like Hopsy. Joan Carpenter is one of the women responsible for these gifts. Joan is a dedicated volunteer with the NNCCF, which has offered support and financial assistance to more than 300 local families over the past 11 years. The kids, however, need their own source of comfort, so the retired teacher pulled out her sewing machine and got to work. Joan has made dozens of Snuggle Buddies, "knowing they can take this to the hospital and it can be their little buddy all the way through their treatment."
Lillian's sleeps with Hopsy every night and her little brother hold tight of his own. Kelsey says his stuffed puppy "helps him out a lot because he's going through the emotions as well." Although the Draper kids and Joan have never met, hearing that her Snuggle Buddies are helping them through this trying time warms her heart. "It's been the best thing I've done."
The NNCCF relies on donations and support from our community and you can help in two ways this month.
On Tuesday, October 22, KTVN Channel 2 will team up with the Reno Fire Department for Natalia's Night, which is a fundraiser in memory of Natalia Berumen, the daughter of the owner of El Adobe restaurant, who lost her fight to cancer. If you dine at one of the following locations, 20% of your bill will go to the Northern Nevada Children's Cancer Foundation.El AdobeUn CaffeZozo'sLuLou'sThe GrillMurietta's (Both locations)Wild River GrilleLos Compadres (All locations)Twisted ForkWoody's (All locations)PJ's
You can also participate in the 6th annual All-In for Childhood Cancer Poker Tournament on October 24th at the Peppermill.
However, if poker is not your thing, a shopping extravaganza is taking place that same night. The entry fee for the shopping event is $75. Shop various vendors from jewelry, candles, boutique clothing, items of kids and pets, wine tasting and electronics. To learn more, log on to www.nvchildrenscancer.org. The attire is cocktail/black tie and the event runs from 5:30-8 p.m.
Written by Kristen Remington