Christmas cards helping 'tough little one' face cancer
Hailey Rodenhiser, 9, has received dozens of warm wishes from across Canada
A nine-year-old girl's struggle with leukemia and her mother's Christmas wish is warming hearts across Canada.
Hailey Rodenhiser of Dayspring, N.S., had a rough Fall undergoing cancer treatments and was feeling especially sad.
She loved getting mail — especially Christmas cards from her grandmother — so her mother asked friends and family on Facebook to send ones addressed to Hailey.
"I wanted to see her smile and get that sparkle back," Jaunita Rodenhiser said.
The post tugged "heart strings" of people across North America, and interest is "snowballing," her father said.
International media have told Hailey's story and dozens of Christmas cards are coming in from friends, family and even strangers as far away as British Columbia.
"It's really amazing. She opens them, reads each one," Leonard Rodenhiser said.
The daily Christmas cards give "the tough little one" something to look forward to between cancer treatments and hospitals visits, he said. "It's a lot on a small child."
The cards have helped "a lot," Hailey said.
"It shows me how much people care and it just feels very special."
Her favourites are "ones with animals on them."
Hailey was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia two years ago last Thursday. Her journey has been difficult with ups and downs in her health. Through treatments, she's made and lost friends to cancer.
"It's hard, it's really hard. You want to make it all better and you can't," Leonard Rodenhiser said.
"It's been a rough two years but to see her smile and light up when she opens the cards ... it's a good feeling."
Earlier this fall, Hailey had been doing well. She even came to Halifax from her community on Nova Scotia's South Shore to cheer on her IWK Health Centre oncologist at a race to raise money for childhood cancer research.
But then Hailey's liver started having problems and she was back in the hospital. A series of tests revealed she wasn't processing one of the chemotherapy drugs properly.
Only now is she back on half doses and faces another nine months of treatments.
"Things have seemed to settle down a bit. Hopefully we can get through Christmas before anything else flares up," Leonard Rodenhiser said.
"The whole Christmas cards thing kind of is like the icing on the cake."
If you'd like to send Hailey a Christmas card, her address is 151 Hirtle Rd, Dayspring, N.S., B4V 5R1. She's received almost 60 so far, and hopes to have enough for a big pile "to jump into" by Christmas.
With files from CBC News Network