In July 2014, Annabelle Phillips celebrated her eighth birthday. Just days later, she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, and life became a whirlwind.
This type of rapidly progressing cancer affects the blood and bone marrow. Symptoms experienced by patients with the disease often include severe nosebleeds, shortness of breath and weakness, bleeding gums, fatigue and an overall decrease in energy levels.
Amid the next 26 months of intensive treatment, Annabelle and her family had to find a new kind of normal. “Cancer is scary – especially for an eight-year-old,” remembered Annabelle. You don’t know what cancer means. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The Phillips family chose to trust the team at Golisano’s Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida with their precious daughter, a decision that they have stood by every day since. “It was the most terrifying time of our lives and yet, the most comforting – because of the team at Golisano,” said Annabelle’s mom, Brandy. “They were right there every step of the way, with more support than we could have imagined.”
The professional, experienced team at Golisano Children’s Hospital understands that a cancer diagnosis is devastating for the whole family – psychologically, emotionally, and beyond. That’s why they provide an array of supportive resources, such as access to a child psychologist.
Because of generous donations to Barbara’s Friends, these services are offered free of charge to the families who need them most. “Barbara’s Friends helps families keep a little bit of normal in the cancer world. I would not be the person I am today without them,” explained Annabelle.
This September, Annabelle celebrates her fourth cancer-free year. “I am a cancer survivor. I have been in remission for 4 years. But without Golisano Children’s Hospital, I would not have gotten through that experience,” she continued. “The people at Golisano became way more to me than ‘just’ doctors and nurses; they became my family.”
Today, Annabelle is a thriving 14-year-old freshman at Ida Baker High School in Cape Coral. She loves track and field, math, and bowling. Her hair, once lost during treatment, is now long, curly, and healthy.
Cancer patients, including the youngest and most vulnerable, lose their hair during treatment. For many children, and those who love them, their baldness serves as a constant reminder of the deadly disease hanging over them. That’s why Barbara’s Friends hosts Clips for Cancer, an annual fundraising event where supporters from the Southwest Florida community shave their heads in solidarity with children who are battling cancer and other blood disorders. Please join Annabelle on Friday, Sept. 11. as she shaves the head of her friend and owner of Bruno’s of Brooklyn, Cal Bruno, during the virtual Clips for Cancer fundraiser.
Annabelle is excited to be a hero for Golisano Children’s Hospital and help raise awareness for Barbara’s Friends. The hematology and oncology program at the hospital sees an average of 400 outpatient visits a month. Barbara’s Friends can provide much-needed relief for families in need, ensuring that young patients living in Southwest Florida receive the specialized care they need while staying close to home.
The need is great. Will you give to Barbara’s Friends and support a family who is courageously battling childhood cancer? Please visit https://justgiving.com/campaign/clips2020 to donate today.