Celebrities escorted young cancer survivors dressed in spring finery down the catwalk at the 25th Annual Children’s Cancer Fund Luncheon and Fashion Show May 3, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas. The dark clouds of children’s cancer cleared and the real stars shown through – the kids.
Hailee Russell Aplin, a seventh grader at Irving’s Lamar Middle School, glided down the runway with singer-songwriter Terry McDermott, runner-up on The Voice last season. Hailee sings in the Lamar choir and said she would like to go to the United Kingdom someday, because she likes the accents of the people who live there. McDermott is a Scottish-born American who lives in New Orleans, LA.
McDermott said he has a friend on Twitter who works for one of the sponsors of the event, and she asked him to come.
“She said it was very worthwhile and I said I would be delighted to,” McDermott said. “I saw Hailee’s artwork; it’s very abstract, impressionist, which I love. I’ve read her story, so I was excited to meet her.”
Her artwork was included in the event’s 2013 Reflections Book.
The 13-year-old is battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. After a day at Hurricane Harbor and a sleepover at a friend’s house, Hailee woke up with a lump on her shoulder.
“I didn’t know what it was or anything,” Hailee said. “My dad thought I might have just bumped something on a ride at Hurricane Harbor.”
Although the lump was the size of a golf ball, Hailee said the lump did not hurt.
“A week later, my mom took me to the doctor or a routine checkup,” Hailee said. “He took my blood…I had to go for a CAT scan. A week later, I went to Children’s and they did a biopsy and took part of my swollen lymph node. They said it was cancer. That next week after that, we got started on the chemo therapy. I had to do it for six months.”
One of the drugs was called the ‘Red Devil.’
“It was for a reason, because it was the worst,” Hailee said. “After that, they did another CAT scan, and they said there was no cancer left in my body, but that I would have to do radiation, just to make sure. I went for radiation every day after school for two weeks.”
Hailee said the worst thing about the ordeal was that it happened during the summer and she did not get to do very much. She said she was always tired and felt sick all the time.
“Luckily the week before (the diagnosis), I went to camp,” Hailee said. “That was in June, and when we had VBS (Vacation Bible School) for church, I didn’t get to do all the stuff I would have gotten to do before. When we did the dance things, I would get tired really easily.” Hailee attends Western Heritage Church in Irving.
The young survivor had advice for anyone diagnosed with cancer.
“If you find out you have cancer, you can’t just turn around and pretend it’s not there because it will just get worse,” Hailee said. “You have to try to make each day happy, because you don’t know what’s going to happen the next day.”
Money donated at the event supports research for cures of childhood cancer and helps find ways to minimize the long-term effects of treatment to give children like Hailee a happier and healthier life.
The outfits reflected the children’s sense of style and personality because they picked them out themselves. The fashions were donated by Dillard’s to the 38 children who took part in the annual fundraiser.
Jennifer DeLaughter and Elizabeth Farr were co-chairs of the event.
“In six short weeks I will become a first time mother; I can only imagine how hard it would be to stand at my daughter’s side while she fights a battle that I can’t fight for her,” Farr said. “I am forever inspired by the courage these families and their children show every day. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to forget the daily struggle of treatment, pain, and hospital visits and shine like the stars they truly are.”
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