We didn’t know what we were missing until we went to camp. Madison was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia two weeks after her 6th Birthday. Due to complications related to her aggressive treatments, Madison wasn’t strong enough to go to Smile-A-Mile camp sessions right away. All we heard during that time was “Are you going to camp?” “Have you signed up for camp yet?” ”Camp is so much fun!” We decided it was better to wait and let her body heal and let her go the next year. The next camp season rolled around and we signed up for Family Camp, Youth Camp, and Sibling Camp.
We arrived at Lake Martin for our first Smile-A-Mile experience and fell in love instantly!! The staff, the activities, fellowship with other parents & children affected by cancer, the support of volunteers, I really could go on and on about what a wonderful experience it was. We were no longer alone on this journey. We had other families to connect with, and had it not been for SAM placing us together, we would have never known what we were missing. I didn’t realize the emotional impact that cancer would have on our family, but out of it turned into some of our greatest blessings.
After Madison’s week long stay at camp she came home so full of joy and asked if she could move in and live at Lake Martin. The activities she was able to participate in were some she hadn’t gotten to do in a long time, and other children going through the same thing she was were right there beside her. She made so many new friends through Smile-A-Mile. She’s been able to keep in touch with many of them at some of the other SAM activities throughout the year.
Sibling Camp was so important for Madison’s sisters to go to. As siblings of a cancer patient they tend to have less focus on them during this time. Sibling Camp was all about them!! The girls were able to make friends with others dealing with some of the same issues. They can’t wait to work as camp counselors one day and help other families and siblings cope.
Our time spent at Lake Martin was just what our family needed!! We are so fortunate for the friendships that were made during the camp sessions.