Kids Battling Cancer, Cancer Survivors, and Siblings of Cancer Patients Have Camp Geared to Their Needs

Camp iHope in Anna looks like any other summer camp. It has fishing, paddle boarding, zip lining, rock climbing, and more. What's different are the campers. Cancer has touched all of their young lives; some personally, some through a sibling.

"I just want to, like, live a really free life," said 11-year old Javier Garcia, who said he was diagnosed with kidney cancer when he was a little boy. "I didn't know what I was going through, and I didn't know it was a deadly disease."

Garcia is a cancer survivor. This week, he's spending time around other kids just like him, who know what he went through battling the disease.

"I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma," said cancer survivor, 12-year old Jacob Reever. "I was able to fight through it and become who I am today."

About 120 campers are at Camp iHope this week. The camp is free. It's made possible through donations and volunteers.

"Mental resilience is a major part of therapy," explained Dr. Erin Lampson, a pediatric oncologist with Texas Oncology at Medical City. "Their life has been turned upside down, and here, they have a chance to act like a normal kid, and have fun, and forget for a few days."

Some of the campers are siblings of those battling cancer, and some who died fighting it.

"My brother passed, actually," Alexia Harvey said quietly. She said her brother, Damean, was 10-years old when he died in 2014. This is her sixth year at Camp iHope.

"I love it so much," Harvey said after tackling an alpine tower climb to the top. "It made me feel awesome and accomplished, cause I didn't think I was gonna do it."

The camp has medical staff on hand for anyone who needs it. The goal is provide as 'normal' summer camp experience as possible for children who have had to deal with heavy emotional and serious health issues. Children who have been through treatment and come out on the other side serve as inspiration.

"Just never give up. Never quit on yourself," said Reever. "And always have hope," said Garcia.

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