Local non-profit thinks ‘outside the box’ to help children with cancer


September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and we’re continuing to highlight how one local non-profit is helping families get through a diagnosis.

Candlelighters thought outside the box this summer to help families feel not so isolated, especially during a pandemic. Having to pivot for a second year, the non-profit came up with “Camp Outside the Box,” a virtual scavenger hunt for families with children with cancer.

One of those families is the Rhodes family. Five-year-old Eli was diagnosed with a type of leukemia in the spring of 2020 and is still undergoing chemo treatments.

“We had some pretty dark times and I remember googling cancer organizations and cancer camps in the Portland area,” Eli’s mom Jacey explained. “Candlelighters came out right out of the get-go.”

Candlelighter’s has helped bring joy to Eli (right) and his family as he goes through chemotherapy for leukemia. (Rhodes Family)

Candlelighters helps families of pediatric cancer patients with everything from emotional to financial assistance. Camp Outside the Box is just one of the ways the organization brings families together so they don’t feel so isolated.

“You can explain to your family, to your friends, other people what this feels like — but no one understands it on a level that other families do,” Jacey said.

Candlelighters has helped the Rhodes family through this dark time and they’ve helped Eli feel like a superhero.

“I’m proud of him, it’s helped him grow. He has a toolset not a lot of 5-year-olds have,” Eli’s dad Adam said. “I think it’s easy to see a lot of darkness in this, a lot of darkness… but also a lot of light in this.”

To learn more about Candlelighters, visit their website.

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