Love and Laughter for Lacey

Lacey Sunrise Day Camp Greater Philadelphia A six-year-old’s birthday is often filled with balloons, cake, presents and lots of fun and laughter that lasts for a whole week. But on the week of Lacey’s sixth birthday, her parents, Jessica and Brian, were in the hospital with her. Lacey had been having pain in her ribs and legs intermittently. On Lacey’s birthday, her grandmothers brought balloons, cake, and presents to her room at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The next day, Jessica and Brian received the devastating diagnosis that Lacey had cancer – B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Soon after, a doctor implanted a port, which would be used in the days and months ahead to send life-saving chemotherapy medication throughout her small body.

Initial blood tests had not shown Lacey’s cancer, but a subsequent MRI detected it. “Her resilience amazes us,” said Jessica, adding that while “Lacey’s treatment has been a long and challenging road, it’s luckily been one with much hope and support.”

Much of that support is from Sunrise. Through regular Sunrise on Wheels visits during Lacey’s treatment, Jenni Rebetti, Sunrise Day Camp–Greater Philadelphia’s Director of Development and Programs, became Lacey’s best friend! Jenni introduced Lacey and her family to Sunrise Day Camp, and after going last summer, Lacey made new best friends who now rank a little higher than Jenni! Some of these camp friends include girls who had also been diagnosed at CHOP around the same time and had planned to attend camp together. The camp experience kept the girls connected, because they “otherwise went to different CHOP clinics and lived far apart,” Jessica explained.

Lacey’s younger sister Charlotte, 3, also loved making camp friends and everything about Sunrise Day Camp – from the welcome music, counselors and snacks to the themed-days and other surprises. “We looked forward to the girls going and having fun together, socializing with the other kids, and for Lacey to have some normalization with all the treatment and other things she was going through,” said Jessica. “It was so important to us that Charlotte could also attend since this past year seemed to revolve around Lacey’s treatments.” Having both girls at camp also helped Jessica focus on work, as she had recently returned after taking a leave.

Lacey is in remission now but still undergoes chemotherapy as part of her treatment plan. She looks forward to seeing Jenni at clinic – and this summer at camp. “Even the smallest interactions with the Sunrise on Wheels volunteers at clinic has helped make our kids’ journeys a little more tolerable and brighter and Sunrise Day Camp provided a safe place for Lacey to play and socialize with other children who are familiar with the things cancer treatment can involve,” explained Jessica.

“It allowed her to just be a kid and forget about her cancer treatment for a bit.”

Lacey’s family is incredibly grateful for the gift of Sunrise.