acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
On February 15, 1993, seven-year-old Martin was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). During the following three years, Martin, like so many other young cancer patients, experienced a series of painful procedures, as well as intensive chemotherapy as part of his treatment protocol.
As Martin endured the seemingly endless procedures, his mother Colleen discovered that providing him with a small toy after each procedure resulted in a calming distraction from his pain. Colleen could see the joy these toys gave her son and believed this would be good for all children who were being treated for cancer. She began a letter-writing campaign to solicit donations, and in August of 1996, her efforts paid off when she was honored with a large donation from Aramark Corporation. That donation officially launched the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation.
In the ensuing years, the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation has experienced phenomenal growth thanks to the caring support from hundreds of individual and corporate donors and benefactors. Today, we can proudly point to our 66 locations spread across 21 states nationwide and know that more than 16,100 young children and teens are being comforted each month as they endure the hardships of cancer treatment.
The following incident illustrates the program’s positive impact on the lives of children with cancer:
On a visit to the clinic, Colleen and Martin heard a little boy about three- or four-year-olds crying in one of the treatment rooms. Martin turned to his mother and exclaimed, “He’s getting a bone marrow biopsy, Mom!” Martin knew that having bone marrow extracted from his hip would be a very painful procedure. Suddenly, the crying stopped, and the young boy exclaimed, “Do I get my toy now?” The nurses happily said, “Follow us,” and off the young boy went like a proud soldier to the Treasure Chest full of toys.
Martin is now 37 years old and 30 years free from cancer. For the past five years, he has been doing an annual charity mountain climb to raise money for his mom’s foundation to get more toys and gift cards into the hand of little ones fighting cancer. They are his heroes!