I was a sick kid, too.
My life changed drastically on October 2009. Shortly before my 22nd birthday, I was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a life-threatening blood cancer.
Time spent building my career as a designer was replaced with doctor appointments, surgeries, and scans. I began eight treatments of high-dose chemotherapy at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. My treatment and multiple infections put me in the hospital for weeks, including a month-long stay in the spring. In the process, I got to know many children who were fighting for their lives.
Called to make a difference.
My treatment isolated me not only from public activities, to protect me from infection, but also from friends and loved ones who couldn’t relate to what I was going through. I desperately wanted to work, to connect with people, to have my “normal” life back.
I began to see teenagers, preschoolers, siblings, and parents go through the same struggle. They were displaced from their pre-cancer worlds—adrift and alone. I began to ask: “What if there was a way to give these patients and their siblings joy and companionship?”
This question eventually led to the Children’s Healing Center, a place where kids can be active and have fun; a place where they can connect with others and take comfort in familiarity – a place where they can be kids again.