The Princess Margaret celebrates the holidays at the 18th annual Children's Holiday Party

By Maria Georgiou


Today was a special day for children at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre as they celebrated at the 18th annual Children’s Holiday Party.

More than 50 children and their families attended to partake in gingerbread decorating, face painting, balloon animals, and a surprise visit from Santa Clause and Elfie.

Children who are attending the Holiday Party either have a parent who has been touched by cancer or are cancer patients themselves, receiving radiation treatment at The Princess Margaret. 

For 12-year-old Daia Russell, the Holiday Party is an opportunity to see the hospital in a different light. In 2015, her father, Joseph Russell, was treated at The Princess Margaret for nasopharyngeal cancer and the Cancer Centre quickly became their home. 

“Christmas is a time for family and giving,” says Daia. “Being here is great because I get to be surrounded by these wonderful people and it makes me happy inside.” 
The Russell family: Daughter Maci (left), dad Joseph, daughter Daia, mom Jessica and daughter Josie.

All of the children are visitors of the Cancer Centre’s Magic Castle, a free child-care service for parents to leave their kids while they are visiting family or going to an appointment. Children who are being treated at the Cancer Centre are also welcome to play in a creative environment with the support of volunteers and staff during the difficult times. 

Daia’s mother, Jessica, knows first-hand how beneficial the Magic Castle has been. When her husband Joseph was being treated at The Princess Margaret, she was grateful to have a place to bring her children to play. 

“We felt so blessed when we found out about the Magic Castle,” says Jessica. “It gave the kids a space to play and have fun.”

Joseph has now completed his chemotherapy and radiation treatments and is doing very well.

“The Princess Margaret is one of the most amazing hospitals we’ve ever been too,” says Jessica. “Every person on this journey has been an absolute blessing. I love that I can bring the kids here to celebrate something. It’s not just the hospital that their dad was treated at, it’s connecting with other families and kids, and having fun.” 

The Children’s Holiday Party has been organized by The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation for more than 15 years and provides a support network for children and their families now and forever.