Today, we can give a child a reason to smile, tomorrow!

Jenna Santelli

Jenna Santelli was the guest of honour at our 4th Annual Dinner Gala.

Below is the speech Jenna made at the Gala detailing her story:

Good evening Ladies and Gentleman, my name is Jenna Santelli. I am happy to be here with you this evening at the Hats Off 2 Kidz™ Gala.

As you heard, I spent more than 6 months at Sick Kids Hospital in 2005. I was 6 years old at the time. I was admitted because I needed a bone marrow transplant. First, I had 10 days of chemotherapy to prepare me for the transplant. My brother, Jordan was my bone marrow donor.

After my transplant, things got worse for me. My liver was failing and my spleen needed to be removed. On June 20, I was in the operating room for 10 ½ hours. When the surgery was done, I had a new liver and no spleen.

Hospitals are sometimes a scary place but Sick Kids has been a second home for me. I have made many friends at the hospital and I look forward to seeing many of them when I go to clinic. I received wonderful care from the many doctors and nurses who cared for me when I was there. We shared many moments together and even some tears. They were always patient with all of my questions and treated me like an adult. Whenever I was to have a treatment or surgery, the procedure was always explained to me so that I could understand.

Sick Kids will always be special to me. I always felt hope, safe and cared for. I collected bravery beads everytime I had blood work, a transfusion, a lumbar puncture, surgery or any other procedure. I made necklaces from the beads. I have 734 beads from my 6 months at the hospital. My mom was always with me and slept at the hospital in my room. My dad would sleep over on the weekends and my mom would go home to see my brothers. I never felt alone.

On December 29 last year, my parents told me that I was diagnosed with Burkitts-Like Lymphoma, which is a treatable cancer. We were all scared and we cried. I knew that I had to be brave and that I had to fight again, so I put on my boxing gloves and started my treatment. I knew that Sick Kids would take great care of me. Three days ago, I had my last chemotherapy treatment and I feel great.

Sick Kids is a big part of my life. They saved my life, and they continue to care for me and I will always care for them.

I was very excited when Deborah and Barb asked me to paint two pictures for tonight. I tried to show you what Sick Kids means to me in my paintings. The angel painting kept me believing that I would get better. The other painting means that you should keep on smiling no matter what happens. I hope you enjoy my paintings.

Thank you for listening to me.