Stacie Smith looks like a typical 9-year-old. She wears fashionable clothing and a smile from ear to ear that could make any Christmas Grinch smirk.
But at her young age, Stacie has endured three years of cancer treatment.
With her illness diagnosed as acute lymphocytic leukemia, Stacie has received chemotherapy, undergone bone-marrow spinal-tap aspirations and had a tube inserted in her chest to receive her medicine. Having completed her treatment, Stacie is now in remission. The pretty girl with long, shiny hair now enjoys horseback riding, swimming, soccer and softball.
A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, not only for the victim but also for the entire family. This is where the Kids Cancer Connection Inc. steps in to help.
The Irvine-based program, founded by parents whose children have suffered cancer, helps families deal with the pain of the disease, assists children returning to school during and after treatments, provides scholarships for children requiring continuing education and supports cancer research.
The Kids Cancer Connection's primary fund-raising program, the "Glad Tidings" holiday greeting-card program, is currently under way.
The program is now in its second year of operation, and this year's cards have been colorfully designed by Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles County children being treated for cancer. The cards contain original inscriptions.
Stacie's greeting card features a fluffy lamb looking hopefully at the North Star. The sentiment inside says, "Do you hear what I hear . . .?" This is the second year Stacie has contributed artwork to the fund-raiser.
"Last year we did about $220,000 worth in sales," said Michele Massey, executive director of the Kids Cancer Connection. "Last month alone we sold $65,000."
A committee chooses artwork. The prospective artists are sent instructions, and when all the artwork is received, Massey and a group of volunteers select the ones that will be printed.
Massey has already received letters inquiring about submitting designs for next year's cards. A letter from a parent in San Marcos read: "My son has cancer. He wanted to know maybe next year if he could send in a design."
The cards are available at the Orange County Marketplace, on the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa; I. Magnin and Bernans, both in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa; and South County Re/Max offices. Orders can also be sent directly to the Kids Cancer Connection.
For more information, call (714) 851-7774.
The Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation in Orange also offers holiday greeting cards created by children with cancer. Funds from the cards are used for research conducted at the Pediatric Cancer Research Laboratory at Children's Hospital of Orange County.
Co-chairwoman Bonnie Dankberg thinks the foundation, now in its fourth year of greeting-card sales, will sell 145,000 cards this year.
Cards are available at Nordstrom and Vons Pavilion stores throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties and at the Pediatric Cancer Research Laboratory office on the second floor of CHOC Tower in Orange.
To inquire about the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, call (714) 532-8692.