One local artist hopes her work brings a smile to the faces of children battling tough diseases - she hopes what she can do for kids is similar to what some artists did for her when she was young.
If anybody wants a hardcore dose of reality, visit the oncology division at Children's Mercy Hospital.
The staff and volunteers are world class, but the battle being waged by kids fighting cancer is both inspiring and heartbreaking.
Every Tuesday, Deborah Moreno makes it her mission to make children smile. She's a professional artist, and drawing caricatures is her specialty.
Lately, Tianna hasn't had a lot to smile about. This is the 6-year-old Lee's Summit girl's second stint at Children's Mercy as her cancer has come back. But, thanks to Moreno, it's a good day.
Ironically, Moreno and Tianna have a lot in common.
"We were involved in a car accident. I had to be hospitalized. I came to Children's Mercy... it was a rough time," Moreno said.
The artist and hospital volunteer talked about when she was a 12-year-old girl suffering from broken bones, internal bleeding and lacerations to her face. And then there was a knock on her hospital door.
"A couple of artists from Hallmark asked if I wanted to get my picture drawn and I thought, ‘Oh no,'" Moreno said.
Hesitant, she was convinced she was too disfigured to have her portrait drawn.
"I thought, ‘Well, they're artists and that's what I want to be when I grow up,' so I got a drawing. When I looked at it, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh... is this really me?' I look really good, I was so excited," Moreno said.
Inspired as a child, a grown up Moreno is now doing the inspiring and she said the rewards are priceless.
"At the beginning I thought I would give back. I have the blessing of being able to draw and make a living doing it so I should give back, but now it's me that's getting so much back from coming to see the kids," she said.
You can find Moreno's work as a freelance artist at the Crown Center.
As for Tianna, Thursday will be a critical day for her. She will undergo a procedure to determine how successful her chemotherapy treatments have been. If she receives good news, Tianna will then be eligible for a bone marrow transplant.
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