For 7-year-old Lucy Watters, her mother, Nicole Watters, and their family, Seattle Children’s is like a second home. They are at the hospital often, and their care team has become like an extension of their family. Compared to their usual visits, their current stay, 23 days in the Cancer Care Unit, doesn’t seem that long.
“As hard as it is to be here, we know we’re in good hands. We have family within the hospital walls,” said Watters. “When we walked in that first day, Lucy was smiling, like she was going on vacation.”
It breaks Watters’ heart, but also gives her relief.
In the beginning of June, their family received devastating news. Lucy relapsed again, for the fourth time. Lucy was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 3 years old. Since then, for nearly half her life, she’s been in and out of the hospital for treatment.
“She doesn’t remember life before cancer,” Watters said.
Through everything, they hold onto hope, and live by a simple motto.
“Stay in today,” Watters said. “We take it one day at a time and live in the moment.”
Thursday was a good day, filled with so many special moments. They got to go home and received a special send-off from one of Lucy’s biggest fans, Alysha Clark of the Seattle Storm.
A special delivery
Three weeks ago, Clark visited Seattle Children’s with teammate Jewell Loyd. They met with patients and families in the hospital. That’s when Clark first met Lucy, and the two became fast friends. The visit meant the world to Lucy and her mother.
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“It’s a respite for parents,” Watters said. “Lucy loved her visit and I was so grateful for the distraction.”
During the special visit, Lucy made fairy lanterns with Clark and Loyd, talked, laughed, and for a moment, they all forgot where they were: in the hospital.
“Thank you isn’t enough,” Watters said. “It’s bigger than a thank you. Alysha has such a passion for this place and the kids. It’s unsurpassed.”
Last week, Clark visited the hospital again, this time with a large truck in tow. It was filled with more than 2,000 toys for children at the hospital. This is the fifth year the Seattle Storm has hosted a toy drive for Seattle Children’s, and Clark has spearheaded the effort. The Seattle Storm Toy Drive, supported by Lime, was held on July 19 and was a huge success thanks to Clark and the Storm fans.
Just as the truck pulled into Seattle Children’s rounded drive, filled to the brim with toys, Lucy and her family were discharged from the hospital. On their way out the door, Clark had a special surprise for Lucy to celebrate.
Inside the volunteer office, Clark and Loyd waited for Lucy and her mother. They had a basketball hoop, basketball, sign and custom hoodie all waiting for Lucy. Before heading home, they took a few shots, shared a few more laughs and Clark gave Lucy a big hug.
“We’re going to continue to do this, continue go grow, and continue to put smiles on these awesome kids’ faces,” said Clark.
Surrounded by thousands of toys, gift cards and toiletries from the toy drive, Clark’s smile was bright.
Living in the moment
For Watters, it will be a good memory. They are out of the hospital for now, enjoying the small moments that make up a day.
“Lucy is here now,” said Watters. “She’s here because of Seattle Children’s. We don’t know what’s next, but I have full confidence they are doing everything they can to save her. Lucy is their kid too. We have hope. We have to have hope.”
Seattle Children’s is dedicated to improving CAR T-cell Immunotherapy for a variety of childhood cancers to the point that it helps patients achieve long-term remission – and ultimately – a cure. The T-cell immunotherapy trials at Seattle Children’s are funded in part by Strong Against Cancer, a national philanthropic initiative with worldwide implications for potentially curing childhood cancers. If you are interested in supporting the advancement of immunotherapy and cancer research, visit Strong Against Cancer.