CLINTON - Alyssa and Kindt Nielson feel blessed, despite the fact that two of their children spent years undergoing treatments for blood cancer.
The 11-year-old twins, Channing and Jakob, are leukemia survivors and students at Clinton Middle School. The things that helped the boys and the family on the road to recovery is a story they want to share with the world.
"Bad things happen; accidents happen and cancer happens," said Alyssa Nielson.
Even so, there is hope and there is gratitude.
"It's how you give back, how you tell your story."
The most recent blessing for the family came in the form of a gift card for the twins from the Burlington Stores in Madison this week.
"The twins thought they were going to be interviewed; they didn't know they were getting a shopping spree. They were surprised," Alyssa said.
The Burlington Stores have formed a partnership with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). From Sept. 9 through Dec. 1 customers can donate $1 or more to support LLS. The goal is to create a world without blood cancer. The partnership has raised more than $32 million over the years.
Channing and Jakob each received a $100 gift card from the partnership. The first thing the boys wanted to do was to buy a toy for their sister and one for their cousin, Alyssa said.
"It was a proud parent moment," Alyssa said.
Alyssa praised the efforts of the partnership and the LLS for their family and for others, saying it provides hope and financial support.
"That's why I support them," she said.
The Nielson family also is grateful to the Clinton community members who have helped them during their time of need which began when Channing became ill at the age of 3 and underwent three years of treatment. He has been cancer-free for five years now. Jacob was diagnosed in 2014 and also underwent treatments at American Family Children's Hospital in Madison. Jakob also has been cancer-free for one year.
For several years the Nielsons traveled back and forth to Madison weekly and also stayed at the Ronald McDonald House when overnight stays were necessary.
"The Ronald McDonald House is an amazing facility," Alyssa said.
The Nielsons also have a 9-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son and family and friends helped with their care during the time of the twins' illnesses.
The Nielsons had insurance to cover most medical costs.
"We were incredibly blessed with insurance," Alyssa said.
Still, having cancer is a financial burden. There's the gas and transportation costs, maintenance of vehicles, food cravings of the ill person and more to consider, Alyssa said.
"We had to be careful about how we spent our money," she said.
But again, people helped the family with support and donations which were gratefully received, she said.
"There was huge community and family support during this time. You can't get through a child's diagnosis with cancer without others around you," Alyssa said.