Teams and Walkers
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Teams and Walkers
Teams and Walkers
Meet our 2023 HorizonWALKS Camper Ambassadors: Siggy & Freya!
Team Name: Siggy Strong
Here is the story as told by their mother, Samantha
Just before Siggy’s second birthday we noticed some slight swelling in her left eyelid, so we quickly brought it up to the pediatrician. At first, she thought it might be an infection so Siggy was put on antibiotics, but her eye continued to swell. About two weeks later just after Christmas 2019 we got an appointment for a CT scan to see what was going on inside the orbit. About a week later we got a call that no parent every wants to receive. The pediatrician shared with us that there was a mass of some kind behind Siggy’s eye, and the doctor recommended that we see an oncologist. We were quickly filled with an array of emotions – fear, anxiety, and worry to name a few. We went to Johns Hopkins, and they were fairly sure it was going to be Rhabdomyosarcoma since Siggy had a textbook optimal presentation. By mid-January 2020 we had the official diagnosis of Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma with optimal outcome. Siggy began treatment that day with a VAC Chemotherapy plan, which included 12 weeks chemotherapy followed by five weeks of daily Proton radiation along with another four months of chemotherapy. Compounding our fears and anxieties, the Covid 19 pandemic added various layers of isolation, caution, and challenges.
Siggy was in remission by June 2020. However, her first follow up scan in October, 2020 showed that the cancer was back, so she went back into treatment in November – this time with daily chemotherapy on a clinical trial for four months followed by the removal of her left eye, eyelid, and all tissue inside. Also necessary was three days of Bracchytherapy (radioactive isotopes directly on the site of the tumor), which was conducted at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. After a month of healing, she began the second half of her chemotherapy regimen which required another six months of daily chemotherapy on the clinical trial, which she finished in late August, 2022. These days were especially hard because Siggy and I had to be separated from her sister, Freya, and her dad for much of the time since only one parent was allowed to be with Siggy at once, and siblings were not permitted at all due to the Covid 19 restrictions.
Siggy is now in remission. She has had clean scans for her follow-up visits over the past year, and we pray they continue to be clean. Siggy, now age 4, has been dealing with cancer and all of the challenges that go with it for more than half of her life, and the experience has also been very challenging for her sister Freya, now age 7. Freya was always worried about her little sister, but at such a young age she too had to deal with all of the burdens and fears that go with a childhood cancer diagnosis within the family. Often, as parents, we were so consumed with Siggy’s condition that we were concerned about the implications Siggy’s cancer would have on Freya. Understandably so, we were worried about both of our kids, and we just wanted them to be safe, be together, and just have normal childhoods.
This is where Horizon Day Camp comes in. Horizon Day Camp is a camp for children with cancer AND their siblings! It is a place that is not only FREE for families, but it is a safe-haven with doctors and nurses and “best practices” in place to ensure a safe environment for all of the children. Most importantly, Horizon Day Camp is a place where kids can be kids with no judgement. They don’t talk about cancer at Horizon, but it’s a shared bond that connects all of the children. Siggy and Freya have attended the summer day camp together each of the past two summers when their schedules allowed them to go. They have both made friends at camp; they have increased their confidence and independence; and they have been able to do all of the things that kids are supposed to do from enjoying art projects, swimming in the pool, eating ice-cream, and so much more! It was a blessing to have the staff at horizon day camp because they were already familiar with anything siggy might need or feel and they were as aware of the warning signs as I am. This staff allowed me to feel comfortable letting my girls go by themselves all day and I knew they were safe - this was huge for them.
Siggy especially enjoys the art and singing at camp. She is frequently running around the house singing ha ha horizon roll call, and Freya loves the art and pool days, she has come home.with some amazing creations from kolidoscopes to drums. As parents, we could not be more grateful that Horizon Day Camp exists. The girls are happy and thriving in many ways, and that makes us so happy as parents. We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know that Horizon Day Camp is a family we have joined, and it’s a camp community that gives us all strength and happiness as we go through this journey. As such, the girls are thrilled to be Camper Ambassadors for HorizonWALKS 2023!
Horizon Day Camp and all Sunrise Association Day Camps are not-for-profit 501(c)3 charitable organizations, and all donations are tax-deductible under federal guidelines. Horizon Day Camp is affiliated with some of the most renowned hospitals and medical centers working in the field of pediatric oncology, including Children's National Hospital (Washington, D.C.), Johns Hopkins Medicine - The Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore - A Lifebridge Health Center, and the University of Maryland Children's Hospital.
Teams and Walkers