Worcester, Mass. hospital helping young patients celebrate holidays

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December 10, 2013, 6:23 pm
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(NECN: Kristen Carosa) - Seven-year-old Jaiyla Colon smiles as she decorates a gingerbread house right in her hospital bed with her dad Tuesday.

"He comes to see me everyday, it just makes me so happy," she says.

She was diagnosed with leukemia in July, but she isn't letting that get her down.

"She's been a go go girl - like go, go, go - she won't stop doing what she has to," Jaiyla's father Jorge Colon says.

Her dad Jorge along with staff on the pediatric floor at UMass Medical Center spend their days taking her mind off her treatment.

But on Tuesday, making her smile was easy, since making a gingerbread house made Jaiyla feel well.

"It helps them have a little fun while they are here. They have fun, but they are also creative," Francis Wood of the UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center says.

Mount Pleasant Country Club brought everything the kids would need: From bright colored gum drops to big puffy marshmallows, the kids had everything to make their gingerbread house their own. Those who felt up to it got in on the fun.

"It gives them the chance to feel the Christmas spirit and to be kid," Mount Pleasant Executive Chef Richard Kunsch says.

General manager Brian Lynch walks around to watch as each patient creates their sweet treat. He says watching them work brings tears to his eyes.

"This brings them joy, helps them get through the day so they aren't just sitting around waiting for the next treatment to come," he says.

For Jaiyla, staying positive and keeping her mind busy is what keeps her going. She says she knows the next few years will be challenging, but as long as her family is by her side, she knows she'll be fine.

"They make me feel good, they get me to have fun, I relax with them, they really make me feel well," she says.

Tags: Christmas, massachusetts, cancer, holidays, Worcester, University of Massachusetts, leukemia , UMass Medical Center, Kristen carosa, UMass Med, Jaiyla Colon, Jorge Colon
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