Childhood cancer is a traumatic and devastating experience for a child and their families, and two women have come together to provide special moments for sick children to ease the burden for a brief moment and let the children just be children.
Megan Rego is a Fall River photographer. Last year she lost her four-year-old nephew Maddox to brain cancer.
“It was really sudden,” Rego said. “We thought everything was settled, but a secondary cancer came out of nowhere. We lost him within a week.”
“He was only four, but he was such an old soul,” she said. “He really was such a good person.”
The week before she and her family received the news, Rego awoke to a revelation.
“I’ve got to get him a Power Ranger visit,” Rego said, knowing this was her cousin’s favorite character. “I’ve never done anything like this before, but something old of me to call these places to get a Power Ranger. I brought my camera, and that was one of the last times I saw it.”
It was as if intuition spoke to Rego to create a special moment for Maddox and his family.
Fast forward to Easter 2021 when Rego’s aunt, Maddox’s mother, ordered an Easter Bunny character from Piece of Cake Parties in Swansea. Karen Whitener, the owner, arrived and introduced Megan. Then Whitener himself had a moment of intuition.
Whitener considers himself spiritual and couldn’t help but feel a sadness under the party that day.
“I could feel the happiness, but I felt a strange sadness when I was there,” Whitener said. “I looked around and saw a canvas photo of Maddox in his Power Rangers costume. I just knew he wasn’t with us anymore.”
Whitener explained how she couldn’t get the thought of Maddox out of her head after that day.
“I thought about him for days,” she said. Then she decided to contact Rego.
“I messaged her on Facebook saying, ‘This is so random, and I know you don’t really know me, but how would you like to partner up to offer free photo sessions to children with cancer and their favorite children? character?’ She was right in,” Whitener said.
Within 24 hours, the women had set up the Maddox Ranger Project. Families suffering from childhood cancer are encouraged to apply online for a completely free experience, where the child’s favorite character drops by, courtesy of Whitener’s company, and Rego documents the whole thing.
“They’re getting as many pictures as I can take,” Rego said. “I’m also trying to make a video.”
Since the start of their project in June of this year, they have gifted this experience to two children. A little boy named Finn was visited by Elmo and a little girl named Madyson was visited by Wonder Woman and Batman.
“I just feel (Maddox) doing these things,” Rego said. “I don’t cry when I do these things. I’m so in the moment and I feel close to him.”
Whitener and Rego hope to pass these experiences on to as many families as possible to bring a spark of joy in difficult times. In the midst of darkness, these women strive to shine brighter days on those who need it most.