A 4-year-old cancer patient undergoing treatment at the Cancer Center for Kids at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola received a special gift Thursday, just a week after her birthday.
Mattel, Inc. created a custom Barbie doll for Genesis Reyes that is like her in every way. She wears a tiara, pink dress, carries a wand and has no hair, just like her new owner.
Genesis, who suffers from Neuroblastoma—a cancer that effects infants and children in which a malignant tumor develops from nerve tissue—was herself again after undergoing chemotherapy last summer. But after her second round of treatment a couple of months ago she lost her hair again, and with that, her hopes of being a princess.
“When she came in after treatment again she didn’t want to do anything, she didn’t want to play,” said Kim Krupa a Certified Child Life Specialist at the hospital. “In the past we had tried to give her tiaras and stuff when she lost her hair due to the treatment, she didn’t believe that she was a princess.”
Krupa and Nancy Morreals, a social worker at the hospital, tried everything for the Uniondale girl. They looked into books, did some research and eventually cut the hair off of a Barbie doll. Unfortunately, the doll had holes in its head instead of being bald.
With the help of a friend, a mother who also has a daughter in treatment got in touch with Mattel, which created a one-of-a-kind “Princess Genesis” doll to help her understand that even girls with no hair can be a princess.
“They hadn’t done it before in the past,” Krupa said of the original doll, “and I don’t know about the future, [but] that would be pretty awesome.”
It took Genesis a little while to enjoy her new doll after Krupa handed her the Barbie. She was upset prior to receiving her gift, but after a couple of minutes she took a liking to it.
“She took the crown off and she tried to put her fingers over the head and she realized that It had no hair,” Krupa said. “I think she’s just going to love it because it’s something she’ll realize; princess’ don’t have to have hair.”
Reyes, 43, said through a Spanish interpreter that Genesis “feels a little better” after being diagnosed a little over two years ago. He thanks god because the treatment “has been excellent.”
Reyes, who is originally from El Salvador, said the cancer has been very difficult on the family, but he’s very proud of his princess.
“100 percent,” he said smiling.