Dad Helps Immunocompromised Kids Play Safely After Daughter's Cancer Battle

There's little in life that seems as sad and unfair as those times when children develop serious illnesses and have to fight for their lives before they've really started living it.

And because that's such an obviously difficult situation for them and their families, it's doubly inspiring to see people from all walks of life do their best to make that scary time as comfortable as possible for the little ones.

Still, it's hard to get a sense of what a kid in that situation really needs until one of them is close to you. And while that's exactly the heartbreaking situation that one dad found himself in, it inspired him to make a difference both in his daughter's life and for others like her.

When Lily Taylor's family took her to the hospital at the age of three, they thought she only had an ear infection.

But as Good Morning America reported, they were soon devastated to learn that she really had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

As her father Brad said, "We were told our daughter has cancer at 10 o'clock at night and by the following morning, she was in surgery. That's how fast it changed my life."

As is often the case, Lily would have to spend the next two-and-a-half years going through chemotherapy, which compromised her immune system as a byproduct of eliminating her cancer cells.

This meant that her family would have to be extremely careful with washing her fruits and vegetables, as well as making sure any meat she ate was well-done. But an issue that meant far more to her was the fact that she wouldn't be able to play in any public spaces like parks.

Brad shared this concern with her doctors, and they told him to take her on a drive since that's still in a confined space.

However, this outing would turn out disastrously once Lily spotted a new park she wasn't allowed to play in.

In Brad's words, "She finally was at her breaking point and lost it. She was throwing shoes at me from the back, just furious that I wouldn't stop the car. She cried herself to sleep, she was so worked up."

This led him to try and find a space where immunocomprised children could safely play, but he soon learned that no such place existed in his area and that the social workers he knew hadn't even heard of one.

Facing no other option, Brad then decided to try and build one himself, which he would soon name "Lily's Pad."

To make this work, he consulted his local medical community to determine what would make that idea feasible.

As a result, he came away with plans for a 5,800-square-foot complex that would have an HVAC system installed with HEPA filters and UV cleaning similar to what you'd find in a hospital.

Each play session here would take 90 minutes with 15 children allowed in the building at once. Each child would be watched over by qualified nursing students and the facility would be cleaned with Decon7 after each session.

Describing his initial idea for Lily's Pad, Brad said, "I just wanted to give her back a piece of her childhood."

But once it's completed, the facility will likely have an even more powerful effect than that, according to Dr. Bijal Shah of the Moffitt Cancer Center.

He told Good Morning America that the ability of children who are going through the same physical and mental changes they'd otherwise be self-conscious about to play together will likely have a profound psychological benefit for them.

Lily's Pad is also meant to help the families of these children. Part of that comes from giving them a break for once, but marriage counseling, grievance counseling, and information on financial resources will also be provided.

By the time that construction was set to begin in April of 2020, Lily finished her final chemotherapy treatment and was declared cancer free.

According to the Lily's Place Facebook page, she also cut the ribbon on what will one day become Lily's Pad.

Unfortunately, it's unclear when it will actually open as the COVID-19 pandemic delayed construction. Brad now hopes that it will finish by April of 2022 and meet the second anniversary of her final treatment.

As he put it, "My daughter is so excited to be able to open this place and point to the name on the wall and say 'I'm Lily, and you can beat this.'"

h/t: Good Morning America

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