Candlelighters Camp offers kids with cancer a nature retreat

Published: Jun. 4, 2017 at 2:03 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 11:13 AM MST
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PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Every year more than ten thousand children in the U.S. under age 15 are diagnosed with cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

It's a difficult time for families as they spend weeks and even months in the hospital, but now a camp retreat is giving kids and their parents a much needed break.

"By that time she had about 91 percent cancer cells in her blood," mother, Laura Cockrell said.

Laura Cockrell recounts the scary moments when her 8-year-old daughter, Abby, was diagnosed with Leukemia.

"Reality setting in – that this is our future. We have a baby with cancer now. It was shocking," Cockrell said.

Over the last two years Abby has gone through multiple rounds of intense chemotherapy and blood transfusions.

"I miss school a lot and it makes me really tired and it makes me sick," Abby Cockrell said.

But this weekend, Abby got a chance to escape the constrains of hospital IV cords and try her hand at shooting a BB gun as the sun filtered through the pine trees a top Mt Lemmon.

"Instead of having all this treatment and having to stay inside, I can just be here and just enjoy myself," Cockrell said.

It's all part the annual Candlelighters Family Camp retreat. The non-profit group offers an escape for children battling cancer and their families who face the challenge of caring for them. Candlelighters also give financial help as hospital bills add up fast.

"Some people even lose their car or can't pay their rent so Candlelighters can step in and assist the family financially," Candlelighter Camp Board Member, Naomi Weinberg said.

For the Cockrell family they said they're grateful to be surrounded by nature and other kids fighting a similar battle.
"They get what I'm going through," Abby Cockrell said.

"Having a weekend like this just gives our family a break and a chance to recharge," Laura Cockrell said.

The Candlelighters Foundation relies on donations and gr ant money to be able to offer this camp retreat each year. For more information click here.

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