A 2-year-old girl undergoing cancer treatments at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles was happily inundated with pizza deliveries after a public plea for the treat went viral on Reddit on Saturday.
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“Send pizza room 4112” was the sign that Hazel Hammersley’s mom Lauren and grandmother Linda created out of medical tape in Hazel’s hospital-room window last week. “We had been here since July 4th and are always trying to think of ways to pass the time for a 2-year-old, since you begin to get a little stir crazy,” Lauren told Yahoo! Shine. “We didn’t think we’d actually get any pizzas!”
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And for a couple of days, they didn’t. But when someone snapped a photo of the sign and put it on Reddit, Lauren said, “It went crazy.” Well over 20 pizzas were delivered to Hazel, who was diagnosed in April with rare stage-three neuroblastoma.
“She loved it. She woke up and there were pizzas everywhere,” said Lauren. “She had three slices.”
But by Saturday afternoon, the hospital had to put a halt to the generous outpouring by posting an announcement on its website. “Thank you to the compassionate Reddit users who saw this photo and responded with a pizza delivery,” it said. “If you’re on Reddit and have seen the adorable photo below, please help Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and patient mom, Lauren Hammersley, spread the word: You’ve made a little girl very happy but NO MORE PIZZA IS NEEDED.”
Hazel, who has siblings ages 6 ½ years, 4 years, and 8 months old, is “very resilient, very strong willed,” said her mom. She will require over a year of hospital treatment for her illness, which typically affects children 5 and under. And the donations provided a sorely needed boost to an otherwise trying time.
“Honestly, it meant the world,” Lauren said of the impromptu pizza party, which brought together the other kids in the wing as well as parents and nurses. “We had a good time in the midst of a terrible and devastating illness. It was nice to be able to bring some joy.”
The most important part to Lauren, who blogs about Hazel’s treatments, has been the subsequent media coverage, which has helped bring awareness to the issue of childhood cancer. “Funding for research is so abysmal,” she said, noting that only 4% of the federal budget for cancer research goes to pediatric cancers. Because of that, new therapies are not being investigated and children are being given woefully out-of-date treatments, she added, “So it’s really tough.”
But over the weekend, if only for a few hours, everyone got to focus instead on some festive indulging. "It was so nice to be able to lift spirits here," Lauren said, "and to give back to the incredible nurses, who are here for the day to day, and who see it all."
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