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Young cancer patients spend care-free Sunday at Wonderland

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AMARILLO - This was the first weekend of summer vacation for most families in the panhandle, and for most that means fun and relaxation. But cancer patients don't get a break from away from waiting rooms and needles during those summer months, so a few area organizations made sure they got at least one care-free day Summer Sunday.

11-year-old Carla Contreras comes to Wonderland with her family every summer, but this year is different.

"One day you're happy with your family and the next cancer comes knocking and everything changes," Contrera's mother Lucy Perez said.

Contreras was diagnosed with leukemia just 3 weeks before she wrapped up the 5th grade.

"She had a bone marrow biopsy, chemo therapy on Thursday, and Friday she was at school," Perez said. "She's a fighter." 

A lot has changed since Contrera's last family trip to Wonderland, including her hair.

"I got it cut so I could get used to it and I won't really notice it falling. So my mom and me, we decided to get it cut and I donated it to Locks of Love," Contreras said.

But her contagious smile and bubbly personality are still the same. That's part of the reason why her doctors believe she will be a part of the 95 percent who beat her type of cancer.

"She has a winning personality we love people like that because that's the kind of person that will pull through anything," Texas Tech Health Science Center Pediatric Oncologist Oswald Regueira said.

About 60 other young cancer patients and their families enjoyed the day at the park cost-free Sunday, all thanks to Texas Tech Health Science Center, Panhandle Angels, Circle of Friends, and the Outdoor Adventure Foundation.

"We try to make it so the kids can lead as normal a life as possible," Regueira said.

A day away from the poking and prodding of the doctor's office for Contreras to just be a normal kid, and her family a normal family, even if just for one day.

"I never thought cancer would get that close to me," Perez said.

In July, Contreras and her family will go a cost-free camp near Canyon with her brothers and sisters. The camp, Camp Alphie, will be held for the 25th year this summer in Ceta Canyon.

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