Young Patients Battling Illnesses Reveal What They Are Thankful for This Thanksgiving
The week before Thanksgiving, representatives from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta asked parents and patients what they were most thankful for this year.
"For those who spend time in our hospitals, the season of gratitude can spark nostalgia for days when they, too, lived in a safe cocoon that masked the beauty of the little things many of us take for granted," a spokesperson for the hospital tells PEOPLE.
The mother and grandmother of 2-year-old Aliana, who has endured five open heart surgeries to correct life-threatening defects, said they were thankful for each breath their little girl takes.
Photographer Kate T. Parker took pictures of the patients, which included Holin, who suffers from seizures and heart defects.
"She was born with multiple heart defects, placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation at just 3 days old and has endured 17 seizures to date," according to the hospital. "Since day one, she’s defied the odds and honed a personality that turns any room into a stage."
Holin says she is thankful for the times she's able to go home.
Akira was diagnosed with bone cancer this year and quickly made friends at the facility. She is thankful for the art she is able to make while receiving treatment.
"With help from her child life specialists, she regularly whips up pieces of art in her room," a spokesperson for CHOA tells PEOPLE.
A road accident killed Cullen's mother and left him seriously injured. He has endured hudreds of hours of physical therapy, and has gone through eight surgeries. Cullen has been supported by his father through it all, and he is thankful for him this holiday season.
Ashley is a patient at the hospital's Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. She has been fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia for more than a year, and is thankful for the friends she has made while receiving treatment.
Yougn Edward was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in November 2017, and is receiving chemotherapy infusion, something he is thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Landen weighed just over a pound when he was born in August at 24-weeks gestation.
"There are no words to express a mother’s gratitude for being given the peace of mind that your baby is in great hands," his mother told CHOA.
Sadie was born premature, and has experienced digestive problems in the years that followed. She'll have nutrient-rich liquid fed to her through a tube this Thanksgiving, but her mother says they are grateful for any day she has been able to have "real food."
Nolan has hydrocephalus, a rare disease that causes a buildup of fluid deep within the brain. He and his mother, Ashley, have spent much time at CHOA to get brain shunt surgeries, a tonsillectomy, and treatment for a stroke. Ashley says she is thankful to hold her son this Thanksgiving.