Lynden Smith is a 7-year-old girl with a big heart, big dreams, and an even bigger desire to make a difference for kids fighting cancer. In addition to being passionate about helping others, Lynden is a cancer warrior herself. After discovering an unusual “pimple” on her lower back, Lynden’s parents, Dan and Amanda Smith, grew concerned.
When the bump changed shape and color, they took her to the doctor who gave them medication for an infected hair follicle. A few days later, Lynden had swelling in her right groin. After yet another doctor visit, laboratory tests revealed that she in fact had cancer. She was diagnosed with stage III anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Like other families whose child has cancer, her family’s world was turned upside down. Instead of enjoying summer activities, Lynden had to undergo intensive treatments that included aggressive chemotherapy, which would require her to be hospitalized for each treatment cycle and months of grueling treatments.
A year before Lynden was diagnosed, she cut off 12 inches of her hair and donated it to children who had lost their hair from cancer. This was her idea after seeing a girl on TV without hair. She wanted to help.
The day after she was diagnosed with cancer herself, instead of feeling scared and anxious, she asked her mom if she could start putting money in the change box at McDonald’s to help kids with cancer. In her moment of finding out that she had this serious cancer, she immediately wanted to help others who are suffering from the same disease.
Then she and her family started brainstorming ways that she could raise money to donate to kids with cancer. She decided to make bracelets and donate all the proceeds to an organization that helps other kids like her. She chose the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation—a nonprofit organization in Irvine, California, that identifies and invests in leading-edge pediatric cancer research that promises the best hope for a cure for childhood cancer (see www.pcrf-kids.org).
Lynden and her mother thought that they would only sell about 25 bracelets to some family members, but instead, their effort took off. In just 1 month, Lynden sold hundreds of bracelets and raised more than $10,000 for pediatric cancer research!
She now calls her bracelets “Lynden’s Lotus,” which is named after the lotus flower charms that are included on each unique bracelet. She and her mom chose the lotus flower—because it represents life, victory, and overcoming hardships. Each bracelet also contains lava beads, which are grounding stones that represent strength and courage.
Amanda, Lynden’s mother, said, “We have had so much help from friends and family and neighbors, and even from strangers—purchasing supplies, making bracelets, packaging them up, mailing them, and spreading the word. It’s been such an amazing experience, and we are so happy, we feel like we could be making a difference, not just raising the funds, but helping to spread awareness!”
Pediatric Cancer Advocacy
Since then, Lynden and her family have been relentlessly advocating for pediatric cancer, because they know firsthand the importance of finding a cure and better treatments for young people with cancer.
Throughout the period while fighting stage III cancer, Lynden and her family have hosted many fundraisers, including a lemonade stand, a dinner party, and a virtual silent auction. Through the power of community and social media, Lynden’s story has touched the lives of so many in a short time. Lynden’s bracelets are reaching people from all over the world—from Machu Picchu to Paris, and beyond.
Lynden is just getting started, but she has raised more than $65,000 so far, all in the name of pediatric cancer research. Lynden just finished her last chemotherapy treatment, and she is looking forward to going back to school.
To support Lynden’s effort or to learn more about it, visit www.lyndenslotus.com.