Summer camp is something many kids look forward to. But children who are undergoing cancer treatment usually can't go to camp. Instead they're often stuck inside and not able to enjoy many fun summer activities. But this week, that all changed through Camp Bring It On near Madison, which helps kids with cancer have fun and form lifelong friendships.
Dacey Bryan and her friends, like many teenagers, are spending time at summer camp this year. But these girls' lives have been painted much differently than the typical teenager's.
"Chemo is not very easy at all. It totally changes your whole body and there's lots of side effects," Bryan said.
Bryan was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 13-years-old. She's battled the disease for two-and-a-half years but is now in remission.
While she's recently had brighter days, that's not the case for all of the nearly 40 kids at Camp Bring It On. All the campers are either cancer survivors or still battling the disease.
"I like Tiger Time, which is when we share what we've been through and it's very emotional," Bryan said.
"It's a chance for the kids who are newly diagnosed or currently going through treatment to see you can get through it and get to do normal stuff," Sanford Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Kaye Wagner said.
Most of the campers are also patients or former patients of Wagner, who's helping out with the camp.
"It's so much fun to get to see them just having a good time at camp, not thinking about what they went through and just being normal kids. It's fabulous," Wagner said.
While the kids are having fun, camp organizers also want to make sure they're safe while they're away from home and the doctor's office.
"This is staffed with medical staff. There's a physician and nurses here so we can help maintain their safety and health throughout camp," Wagner said.
And for many of the campers, beating cancer is not the focus of the day. Instead it's a sunny day spent with friends.
"You can talk about anything. We always stay up late talking," Bryan said. "You make friends that you'll probably keep forever."
They're friendships formed after fighting a not-so-friendly disease.
Several organizations including Cure Kids Cancer, Sioux Falls Morning Optimists, and Mo's Courageous Kids Carnival help pay for the camp.