Reporters are often touched by the stories we cover.
When we become parents, however, the connection we feel to certain stories is often amplified, transformed into a visceral reaction. Hazel’s is one of those stories.
You may have heard little Hazel’s childhood cancer story. Hazel (and her mom) famously posted a “Send Pizza” SOS on the widow of her Los Angeles hospital room. Then 2 years old, Hazel was fighting cancer (Neuroblastoma).
The response became an Internet sensation. Hazel got her pizza, and ultimately got rid of her cancer!
Her mom is now an Internet sensation in her own right. She’s become a spokesperson for the fight against childhood cancer, hosting a fabulous blog and a popular Facebook page.
(Check em’ out and like em’!)
When we saw this post from CBS Los Angeles reporter Kristine Lazar come across our feed, we were struck by how deeply the mother of three must have been impacted by covering Hazel’s story. The #NewsMom was pregnant with twins when she first met Hazel.
So, in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we asked Kristine to share how covering little Hazel’s story impacted her. We hope that sharing Hazel’s story here impacts you, too.
I met then-2-year-old Hazel back in 2013, when she was receiving treatment for Neuroblastoma, a rare and often deadly form of cancer.
I was pregnant with two little girls myself, twins. I couldn’t help but wonder if my twins would grow up to like Rapunzel like Hazel? Would they be girly, just like her?
I also wondered, could they get sick like her, and go from a spunky toddler to a pitiful child, confined to a hospital bed almost overnight?
My heart ached that this sweet girl was near death, and she was just a year younger than my oldest son. When I interviewed Hazel and her mom, all I could think about was “what if that happened to my family?” I was equal parts scared that it could, and relieved that it hadn’t already.
Hazel ended up beating cancer. She has been out of the hospital for about a year and started preschool this fall.
I have done a few follow-up stories with her. I follow her mom’s blog, and I think about the family often. I met them during the worst time in their life. And now that I’m a mom, I can’t just walk away from stories like these.
Having kids has forever changed the way I view my job, and the people I interview. They are no longer subjects. Their stories are part of my own. And I love a good happy ending.
The payoff, Kristine’s final follow-up story on Hazel.