More than 6,000 school-age children are affected by blood cancers each year, and most children with cancer will attend school at least some of the time during and after their treatment. Because school is a place for learning and fun, children benefit from returning as soon as medically possible. Yet, returning to school can be a very tough adjustment for young survivors. What will other kids think? Did I miss any fun activities? Do I look different? These are just some of the many questions cancer patients have when the time comes for them to return to school and their everyday routine.
To help ease their transition back to school after treatment, LLS and its #1 National Corporate Partner and Honored Friend, Burlington, have joined forces to surprise more than 100 brave cancer survivors across the country with an exclusive back-to-school shopping-spree for a new head-to-toe look, to give them the extra confidence they need to return to class.
Here are some of the heroic stories of young cancer survivors who LLS and Burlington have brought smiles and styles to.
When seven-year-old Bella returned to school this fall, she was most excited to see her friends. When she was just four-years-old, what began as ear infections and strep throat that wouldn’t go away, led to severe bruising and a leukemia diagnosis. She would have multiple hospital visits over two and a half years and 700 infusions of chemotherapy. Bella had to miss most of the first grade due to treatment.
“It was hard for her last year; making friends, being accepted and dealing with all the questions about her illness,” her mom, Nicole Caruso, said. “This year, as a second grader she has a very positive outlook and doesn’t seem to think about being sick so much anymore.”
Bella loves gymnastics and the color pink, which was reflected in her Burlington shopping cart.
Ten-year-old leukemia survivor, Amir carried bags worth of clothes and accessories out of his local Burlington store after becoming one of the children picked nationwide to get a surprise shopping spree.
He just returned to school after a year in the hospital to undergo intense treatment. He had to be isolated at home due to his suppressed immune system.
“We know that Amir was really most upset not about having cancer, but missing school,” said Tina Thompson, executive director for the LLS Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia Chapter.
Amir piled his cart with clothing, a watch and a bag of caramel corn. He said he was excited about the surprise. He will continue to be in treatment for another year and a half, but his immune system is improved enough that he no longer has to be isolated.
Daytona Beach, FL
Sophia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2017, about a month after her fifth birthday. She is currently in long-term maintenance and undergoing chemotherapy treatment until October 2019. She was just cleared by her doctors to go back to school this fall.
Sophia is now an active student in the first grade and loves shopping – so running through the aisles at Burlington and picking out whatever she wanted was right up her alley.
“She’s a strong fighter,” her mother, Marlene Costa, said. “The first year of treatment was exhausting for her, but she was so excited to go to school. It’s part of that return to normalcy that she craves, and we’re very happy she’s healthy enough now to learn and to play outside and to make new friends.”
For the past 17 years, Burlington Stores has partnered with LLS, funding research and lifesaving treatments. Together, they have saved lives and helped bring smiles to those touched by blood cancers, with more than $32 million raised to date.
Customers shopping at any Burlington store now through December 1st can donate at checkout to benefit LLS, helping to find cures for blood cancers. Click here for more information and to find a store near you.