Knots of hope
Co-founder of the Asociación Pulseras Candela (Spain)
It all started in March 2013. I was 11 years old and had never been sick.
In just a few hours my life changed forever; I went from my pediatrician’s office to an ambulance that took me to the Sant Joan de Déu Children’s Hospital in Barcelona, 200 km from my home. I didn’t know what was going on. I was scared when I got there and was diagnosed with high-risk leukemia. I could tell you about my long illness, my bone marrow transplant, the consequences of the treatments I had to go through once I overcame leukemia, but my worst years are also the time of a wonderful story that blurs other memories.
To be brief, a volunteer from Sant Joan de Déu taught me how to make bracelets with macramé knots. I taught my friends Mariona and Daniela, who were then 9 years old, and they had the idea to exchange them with our neighbours for donations that could be used to research childhood cancer.
At that time, I was always in the hospital where I found new friends: my companions on the 8th floor, the most atypical gang you can imagine. From babies to teenagers who shared everything we had and felt affection, tears, laughter, fears, hugs and the name “Els Xipirons”.
As we continued to fight cancer, a great circle of solidarity was forming around us.
The whole gang and our families joined the adventure. We wove bracelets like it was a children’s game, to ease the time we had to spend hospitalized, motivated by the idea that our bracelets could help other children.
The bracelets had a name: Candela bracelets, since my friends decided to name them after me. But, really, I think they are actually the bracelets of “Els Xipirons” because they were all responsible for spreading the word, so the bracelets got to their towns, to their schools, to social networks.
As we continued to fight cancer, a great circle of solidarity was forming around us. People volunteered to knit more bracelets, and shops gave us their space to distribute them, schools set up solidarity stands of Candelas at their school parties…
We have called ``Xipirons`` every brave new person facing cancer, and for them and all who will come we continue to weave candles.
And so, little by little, what began with the solidarity of a volunteer for entertaining me, came back to the hospital in the shape of donations that were destined for the children’s cancer research laboratory.
Seven years have passed. Not all of us are here, there are many “Xipirons” missing from that gang that lives forever in my heart. But since then, we have called “Xipirons” every brave new person facing cancer and for them and all who will come we continue to weave candles, convinced that research is the only way to increase survival and improve treatments.
We are convinced that research is the only way to increase survival and improve treatments.
My friends plan to help me has become a solidarity organization, Candela Bracelets Association, and joining forces, we have donated €2,664,122 to the research of childhood cancer, knot by knot, with many voluntary hands, with micro-donations of €3 and €5 in exchange for a bracelet. But not only that. Candela bracelets help new families integrate into the life of the hospital, old age centers to improve the cognitive skills of the elders who live there, in prisons where they are used as projects of social reinsertion and in schools in solidarity workshops giving positive values to children.
Isn’t this a great story?