May 20 - Miami Cancer Institute Infusionarium

This event was the first of its kind for the Miami Chapter. We hosted a fabulous day for the children receiving chemo infusion at MCI. We have never done an event of this kind but this was, by far, the most special event we have had in the last 11 years. We set up the infusion room with bags on each seat filled with goodies, crafts, and fun things to do while they received their treatment - a nice departure and distraction for them, and their parents, from sitting there for hours. We had volunteers dressed as Belle, Cinderella, and Spiderman to facilitate their pampering and play. Cinderella and Belle did mani’s and makeup on our young girl patients, and Spiderman played board games with two teenage boys and really bonded with them. I have noticed in our events over the years that some patients tend to be reluctant to come in as they are shy, but when they leave our events they’re smiling and have had a great time! 

This event was beyond special for me for two reasons, one for a special little girl I met Maddie, and the second for a breaththrough we witnessed which exemplifies the power of our events. It’s not just about “dress up” play therapy heals the soul. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Maddie and her mom, Melissa. Maddie is a 5 year old receiving treatment for Leukemia, she is a sassy, fun little girl full of life. She made a lifelong friend in me and in Belle. She enjoyed each moment of being pampered by a Disney Princess. Maddie did her makeup and had her nails done. Enjoyed her crown and sash and truly took it all in. She almost forgot she was receiving treatment. She bonded with Belle, asked questions about the Beast, and was in tears when we left she had such a special day. During the event I typically manage the patients and volunteers, but this was a very intimate event and I chatted with Maddie. The song “One Call Away” came on by Charlie Puth, and Melissa called over to her daughter and said “listen, that’s your song”. Instantly I turned my head, and asked her if she liked the artist who sang it, as he’s my personal favorite. I showed her videos from his concert, and we put on the album and we were having a ball. 

During this time a couple of the moms were chatting and the 3 moms had all been laid off from their jobs due to their children’s illnesses. As a mother, this broke me. I couldn’t imagine their plight of having a sick child, but then to have to wonder how to afford treatment for their baby - just doesn't make sense to me. I was heartbroken. Maddie’s mom, Melissa, loves to bake and at home taking care of Maddie they began baking together. They began a mother daughter cake baking company to pay for Maddie’s treatment. She truly is making lemonade out of the lemons that life has handed to her. We exchanged numbers and have kept in touch and have done fundraisers together, and I even purchased my kids birthday cakes from her. She’s a fighter and cancer definitely picked the wrong queen. Maddie, Melissa, and I have a very special bond and I am certain she will overcome. They are positive and strong and so courageous. It was for me, personally, the best event I have witnessed. We were giving directly to the kids who need it the most. It was very impactful. 

Speaking of impactful, enter the teenage girls. Some of the teenage girls heard that we were having an event and came over to check it out. One girl, Jazmin, asked if she could take a crown to a girl she had befriended in treatment, who had recently lost all her hair, but refused to show anyone her bald head. This young girl would not take off her bandana for anyone, not even the nurses, she had not yet become comfortable with her new look. Jazmin is a confident girl who rocks her bald head with sass and style and shines brightly and looks stunning. She is such a positive influence for her peers and for this one girl in particular. She gave her the crown from our event and Jazmin started taking pictures with her crown making various poses for the camera. This other young girl, feeling inspired, removed her bandana for the first time put on the crown and began smiling and joining the photoshoot. This was the first time she had shown her new look to anyone and felt comfortable enough with herself to take pictures and have a little fun. The child life specialist came to me and shared this with me, she was on the verge of tears. This was such a huge step in her journey and road to recovery - and it started with a crown. We will definitely be doing more of these infusion events - they were heartwarming for all parties involved and really embodied what we are all about. I truly felt we were living out the mission of the For A Day Foundation. 

We saw two boys and six girls. Thank you to our 4 volunteers!