At nine years old, most girls are focused on school friends and fun. Delaney Saunders was no exception. She was a bubbly, outgoing girl with many friends and a passion for dance. When she started having pain in her ankle, she thought she had pulled a muscle dancing. A massage therapist found a lump on the side of her foot and encouraged follow up with her doctor in 2011. This is where her journey through cancer began.
Ronald McDonald House Charities® Northern Alberta became Delaney’s home while she received treatment at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Her outgoing personality bonded her with fellow House Hero Paige. Both girls were journeying through cancer, so there was an immediate connection that grew into a solid friendship. Both girls lost their hair at about the same time. Both girls had younger siblings. And both girls were battling for their lives.
After two surgeries to remove the tumor from her foot and a tumor from her lung, Delaney vowed that she would dance again. One year later – after many chemo treatments, four weeks of radiation and an upcoming stem cell transplant – she reached her goal. Delaney even made one dance class after finishing a 48-hour round of chemo!
When Delaney learned that Paige’s journey took a devastating turn, she wanted to find a way to honour her friend. She chose the avenue most meaningful to her: dance. In May of 2012, she choreographed and performed a special dance to a song that had helped her through her own journey. Delaney also learned that Paige would have a special tree honouring her life on the House donor wall, so Delaney decided that she wanted to fundraise so that she could have a house next to Paige’s tree. She held bake sales, applied glitter tattoos at corporate functions and raised enough donations to have a house on the donor wall right next to Paige’s tree.
Delaney is now in grade nine, bubbly and outgoing with a very quick wit. She is still passionately involved with dance, loves to bake and shares her love for children through babysitting. She has been in remission for over two years, and feels great. She loves RMHCNA, and often visits with her family to bake and connect. She is also continuing to fundraise for an upgrade to her house net to Paige’s tree. Delaney inspires us.