Teen Survives Lymphoma and Says Thanks by Giving Back

Natalie kicks off knitting challenge to make hats for fellow patients.

Natalie, a teenager from Millbrae, could’ve done nearly anything with her wish, granted by Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area—meet a celebrity, bring home a new puppy, or go on an online shopping spree. Instead, she’s using it to brighten the lives of patients at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, and to thank her caregivers who helped her beat cancer.

“I want to be that sunshine in someone’s life during a tough time,” Natalie says. “Just like the doctors and nurses are for me.”

This week marks three important events for Natalie. She completes chemotherapy for lymphoma, she turns 15, and she starts her knitting challenge to double down on her gift to Packard Children’s. You can help Natalie celebrate her birthday and her last day of treatment by joining her in knitting hats for teenagers who receive care from the hospital’s Teen Van. The challenge runs from July 23 to August 31, and creations can be sent to Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area, 1333 Broadway, #200, Oakland, CA 94612.

“Knit or crochet as many hats as you can. If you don’t know how to knit, check out videos on the internet. It’s easier than you think,” Natalie says.

She picked up knitting as a way to pass time during treatment. One day when she was bored lying around the house, Natalie remembered that she had earlier received a learn-to-knit kit as a gift. She dusted it off and has been knitting ever since.

“I wore a lot of hats during treatment when I lost my hair, so hats have a special place in my mind,” she adds.

As part of Natalie’s wish, Packard Children’s Social Services fund will receive a $5,000 donation. Her gift could support counseling and crisis intervention for families and patients facing a medical challenge.

“The staff at the hospital were always there to cheer me up and guide my family during tough times,” she says. “I gave my wish so people going through treatment might have one less thing to worry about.”

Natalie was so inspired by the nurses who cared for her that she’s decided to study to become a nurse someday. She says that no matter how she felt, the nurses supported her and stayed positive.

“They’d walk in my room with big smiles on their faces, which made me smile. Even when I was upset and crying, they would talk to me and make me feel like a normal person,” she says. 

That’s one nursing lesson Natalie’s already got down: spreading sunshine. Help her by sending in a knitted hat before August 31 to Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area, 1333 Broadway, #200, Oakland, CA 94612.


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