If you met her today, you would hardly know that 11-year-old Elizabeth Higgins once passed her days in a hospital bed, fighting a challenging battle against childhood leukemia.

Diagnosed at the tender age of five, Elizabeth is one of the many children that Barbara’s Friends has kept close to home at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. The ability to stay close to home, near loved ones and friends, is a key advantage for local families whose children require intensive, prolonged treatment alongside the medical care necessitated by chemotherapy. For those who cannot afford the industry-leading healthcare provided by Golisano’s Children’s Hospital, Barbara’s Friends is there with financial support.

The recovery rate at Golisano Children’s Hospital surpasses the national average, and the difference that Barbara’s Friends makes for its young patients has been affirmed by Elizabeth through her own experience. When she reflects on her two-and-a-half year treatment and the environment at Golisano Children’s Hospital, what stands out to Elizabeth is the quality time with family, arranged by her supportive team of doctors and nurses – not the number of days spent in the hospital.

That emotional support and holistic, person-centered care changed her life and perspective on enduring treatments. “What I remember the most was playing with my brother,” said Elizabeth. Regarding the team of doctors who cared for her and Golisano Children’s Hospital, Elizabeth is quick to note that she “loved them all.”

Now 11 years old, Elizabeth has set her sights on becoming a doctor or lawyer, and there is no doubt that this ambitious youngster will accomplish great things. In the meantime, Elizabeth will show her support for Barbara’s Friends on Friday, Sept. 4 and Friday, Sept. 18 by participating in Clips for Cancer, an annual fundraiser that benefits kids with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders. She will shave the head of Dr. Parmeet Saini, a pulmonologist for Lee Health on Sept. 4 and Ken Mack, Barbara’s Friends Advisory Board member.

As a family of healthcare workers, Dr. Saini and his family know the effect that childhood cancer has on a family. From difficult treatments to long hospital stays, the battle against childhood cancer is a long and difficult road, and he knew he wanted to support those who are navigating it. Learn more about Dr. Saini and help him reach his goal of raising $2,500 here

With the help of donations from the Southwest Florida community, Barbara’s Friends can continue to help children like Elizabeth receive the exceptional care that they deserve, while keeping families united and close to home. “Please donate, because they have taken care of me. They saved my life,” said Elizabeth.

On Friday, Sept. 18 as she shaves the head of Barbara’s Friends Advisory Board member Ken Mack. “I’m humbled and honored to let a child cancer survivor shave my head to raise awareness and funds for this important mission. Frank’s story of what he did to create Barbara’s Friends will bring you to tears. It’s an incredible organization. The doctors, nurses, and team that takes care of these kids are world-class,” said Mack.

If you would like to be come a part of this heartwarming cycle, please consider a donation to Barbara’s Friends in support of the brave young patients at Golisano Children’s Hospital.To learn more and donate, click here.