— -- For most of us, going to our "happy place" is just a catchphrase. But for kids battling cancer, a "happy place" is so much more.
"It’s a coping mechanism that can release endorphins and assist with pain management," said the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta in the description of their latest project.
"Oh the Places They’ll Go" used illustrators to bring the kids' happy places to life. In the weeks leading up to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, CHOA asked five of their cancer patients to describe their own unique happy places.
"Puppies, unicorns with soft horns, walrus wizards—these are a few of the magical creatures that exist in the 'happy places' of kids battling cancer. They are places full of promise, hope and joy. Not the wheelchairs, IVs and medications that exist in their daily lives."
Hunter’s Happy Place: A Land of Dolphin Rides and Walrus Wizards
For Hunter, the hardest part of his cancer journey is “just losing everything I remember.” Hunter goes to his happy place when he’s scared, mad or nervous.
Lauren’s Happy Place: Where Everything is Sparkly
After years of CT scans, long hospital stays and chemotherapy, the atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor in Lauren’s brain is gone. The 11-year-old is now cancer free, but she vividly remembers the happy place that helped her through the toughest of times.
Justice’s Happy Place: Italian Picnic Surrounded by Wild Animals
Justice’s happy place is a seaside picnic on the lush grounds of an Italian castle on a sunny day in autumn. The picnic is packed with rich Italian cheeses, pastas, pastries and breads, “but that’s probably just the steroids talking.”
Going there reminds her that “just because I’ve been dealt this hand doesn’t mean I’m going to quit the game. I have to keep playing.”
Mya’s Happy Place: Rio de Janiero
While running at school this past February, 11-year-old Mya felt a pop in her knee that ultimately led to a diagnosis of osteosarcoma, or bone cancer.
After countless doctor visits, MRIs, X-rays and chemotherapy treatments, Mya underwent a procedure called rotationplasty, which resulted in amputation of her leg just above the knee. What's not at Mya's happy place? Crutches or a wheelchair.
Alex’s Happy Place: Home
Alex Richards was 4 years old when he was first diagnosed with T-cell leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. For three and a half years, Alex fought through chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, spinal taps and bone marrow aspirates. Four years later, Alex is cancer free.