​The Princess Margaret’s Children’s Holiday Party provides happy memories for kids touched by cancer

By Sheri Block

(Ryan Goody poses for a photo with Santa Claus and his special elf Barb)

The sounds of festive carols, joyous laughter and Santa Claus filled the halls of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Tuesday afternoon at the annual Children’s Holiday Party.

More than 45 children attended the party, which welcomes kids who have spent time at The Princess Margaret’s Magic Castle childcare centre while their parents or grandparents are undergoing treatment, as well as children who are receiving radiation treatment themselves at the Cancer Centre.

(Ryker Worr receives a balloon animal from Angela Lau of AM Sweet Party & Co)

The party featured colouring stations, balloon animals, plenty of food and of course a present from Santa Claus.
One young guest also brought a little something for the big man in red. 

“I brought Timbits for Santa because I just thought it would be nice,” says seven-year-old Ryan Goody.

Ryan was a regular visitor to The Magic Castle while his grandmother Diane was undergoing treatment for endometrial cancer. 

“It’s a marvelous thing that you have here. I’m not sure how to put it into words, but it’s so special because a lot of times the kids are forgotten when you’re trying to focus on (your treatment) and worried about trying to find a sitter for them,” says Diane, who takes care of her grandson during the day.

(Nathan Smyth gets ready for a tattoo courtesy of Fantasy Airbrush)

Heather Smyth can also attest to how special The Magic Castle is.

Her son Nathan, now 12, started coming to the childcare centre when he was only 10 days old while she was undergoing treatment and a bone marrow transplant for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

She says in many ways, the volunteers helped raise him alongside her and her husband.
“We’re just so thankful for everything The Magic Castle has done for our family,” says Heather.

Nathan has been coming to the children’s party for the past eight years and says it’s been a great experience every year.

“Because my mom went here it means a lot to me because of all of the doctors. I’m thankful for them and it’s just really fun to come,” he says.

Nathan has also shown his appreciation for The Princess Margaret in other ways by taking part in Colour Your Hair to Conquer Cancer earlier this year. He dyed his hair blue with purple tips and raised $1,000 through school fundraising activities and donating his paper route money.

He plans to take part in the fundraising event, now known as Colour to Conquer, again in 2019 and recruit some of his friends to do the same. 

For Darren Wakeford, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma in 2015 and is now on an immunotherapy clinical trial, coming to the party allows his children Loralee, 14, Isabelle, 8, and Christian, 6, to see the Cancer Centre in a different light. 

(Darren Wakeford and his children Isabelle (L), Christian and Loralee take a family photo at the party)

“They enjoy it. It makes it a fun experience to come here rather than what’s going on (with my treatment). It’s a happy memory,” says Darren. 

The Children’s Holiday Party has been put on by The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation for 17 years and is sponsored by Paradise Developments.