When families who have a child battling cancer face milestone celebrations such as prom, quinceanera, sweet sixteen and graduation that sometimes might become overlooked due a cancer diagnosis, they turn to Heroes for Children – a unique nonprofit that provides financial and social assistance to families with children battling cancer – for help. And for the first time in Heroes for Children’s 11-year-history, that includes help with planning a wedding.
Watauga resident, Sarena Saad was a hardworking college student at the University of North Texas, balancing a full-time job and full-time course schedule, when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on Feb. 25, 2015. She was forced to drop out of school and quit her job to begin 17 weeks of chemotherapy. This was followed by limb salvage surgery and another 12 weeks of chemotherapy. She received her last dose of chemotherapy in late November and was deemed cancer free on Nov. 13, 2015.
Sarena slowly began picking up where she left off at school and work. Two months later, in January, she relapsed – the cancer had spread from her wrist into her lungs. After five rounds of chemotherapy, the tumors in her lungs continued to progress. In July, her doctor said that because she had so many new tumors, and because they had grown exponentially, she was considered untreatable and was given 3-12 months to live.
Throughout Sarena’s battle with cancer, her high school sweetheart Tyler has stood by her side. “I've realized how lucky I am for having an amazing boyfriend who stuck by my side through the entire thing. Wiping away my tears, massaging my tired muscles, helping me paint my nails and braid my wig, giving me pedicures, spending the entire summer at the hospital sleeping on a couch, not leaving me even though I slept almost the entire day, packing my bags, driving me everywhere, and loving me through everything,” she says.
The couple had always planned on getting married upon completing college. After hearing that Sarena’s cancer had taken over her lungs and that she would soon begin the transition into hospice care, they decided to expedite their wedding plans to ensure their time together. The couple is set to wed in Fort Worth on Sept. 17. Because the wedding is happening sooner than they expected, Sarena and Tyler reached out to Heroes for Children.
“Heroes for Children understands that some celebrations in life may be overlooked because the entire family’s focus and finances are tied to helping their child with cancer. We developed the Milestone Program to help families like Sarena’s, to ensure that life’s biggest celebrations are not ignored,” says Larissa Linton, co-founder and executive director of Heroes for Children. “It is an honor to provide high school sweethearts Sarena and Tyler with the wedding of their dreams.”
Sarena and Tyler will receive the wedding they’ve always wished for with the help of Heroes for Children’s Milestone Program. The nonprofit secured donations from vendors to provide flowers, centerpieces, DJ, catering, invitations, guestbook, wedding gown, wedding and groom’s cakes, candy bar, photography, makeup, limo, videographer, the groom’s tux and much more.
Heroes for Children has the opportunity to fulfill many more Milestone celebrations for Texas children who are fighting the fight of their life with additional funding. To find out how to help with Heroes for Children’s Milestone Program, please visit, http://www.heroesforchildren.org/programs/social-assistance/heroes-milestones/.
To watch Sarena’s story please visit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvFz6CS3nbU&feature=youtu.be, and to stay updated as Sarena’s plans her wedding please visit Heroes for Children’s Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/heroesforchildren/?fref=ts