One magic summer

Natalia and her sister Annabel at Camp GoodtimesWhen chatting with 10-year-old Natalia today, you might not realize all she went through just a couple of years ago. When Natalia was first diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 4, she had to be airlifted to hospital where she received 7 immediate blood transfusions, followed by 3 years of treatments so intense that they caused her to temporarily lose her ability to walk.

But, with your support, even that couldn't stop her from taking on the best that summer has to offer.

Thanks to generous donors like you, Natalia – and hundreds of other children – had a life-changing summer at Camp Goodtimes, a CCS camp for kids with cancer.

"It was so special,” says Natalia, “a special little getaway from the hospital." She was grateful not only for the change of scenery, but also for the chance to laugh, let go and simply enjoy being a kid -- a chance you helped make possible.

With days filled with games, shared meals, activities like archery, crafts and rock climbing, swimming in the lake and gathering around the campfire to act out skits with her friends, Natalia made memories to cherish.

"The whole thing was very, very fun," she reflects with a smile. "I like that there are kids that know how I feel because we’ve all been through the same things, so they just understand."

And she wasn't the only one who was glad for the time away, coupled with the peace of mind of on-site medical support and the company of families who could relate. Natalia’s mom Christa, and the rest of her family, were with Natalia at camp.

"Camp Goodtimes was one of the best things that ever happened to us," says Christa. "There’s something so special about it. I can’t explain it in words.”

"At first, we were afraid to be away from the hospital, the staff, the safety net we’d come to count on,” she remembers. “We were afraid of germs and absolutely exhausted.”

But now, both Christa and Natalia look back on camp as "a fresh dose of magic to carry all year 'round."

Today, with Natalia's cancer in remission and her prognosis positive, they're only looking forward.