PHOENIX - Cancer is a devastating diagnosis for anyone, but for kids dealing with a mom or dad battling the disease, it's scary and confusing.
Arizona State University has a group of students who work all school year to make life easier for those kids.
“My mom actually fought cancer for eight years. It was really hard because my days went from going to movies with friends to remembering what medications my mom had to take,” said Kristie Becker, an ASU senior. “My mom did end up passing away.”
But when Kristie was 12, her mom sent her to Camp Kesem, a camp specifically for kids whose parents are battling cancer.
Now, Kristie is one of a whole clan of ASU students who run Camp Kesem. They spend all year planning the week-long retreat every summer in Prescott. It’s free to any kid with a parent battling the “big C.”
“It's incredible to see how many people get through it every day and they're still themselves. They're incredibly strong and I think it's so important to see how you can connect with another situation you're also going through,” said a camper with the camp name “Chipmunk.”
The campers all use their camp names in lieu of real names when talking about camp.
Around other kids fighting the same fight, cancer doesn't seem so scary and kids can just be kids.
“I learned that you can find happiness where it doesn't sound like you can,” said another camper named “Butterfly.”
Camp Kesem takes a weight off parents too.
“When Butterfly came back her first year, she was just excited to know there were other kids like her and she didn't have to be alone anymore,” said Jeanette Vaux, a mom of three campers who is in remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Camp Kesem applications for next summer open in January. It's first come, first serve and this year they're hoping to have around 250 kids.