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Cancer survivor gets the royal treatment

GOLD HILL — After nearly a half dozen years of medical woes, 6-year-old Lydia Smith celebrated her clean bill of health on Friday by receiving the royal treatment dressed as her favorite princess, Disney’s Aurora.

Selected by the Kids Wish Network (kidswishnetwork.org) after a nomination from a grandfather, Lydia wished for a princess’s bedroom and to be treated as royalty for a day.

Whisked away to the salon at JCPenney for a haircut and style — princess curls, please — Lydia was then delivered back home where her once simplistic and practical bedroom had been transformed. Almost-sheer white and pale pink fabric hung over a new four-poster-style bed, and a set of intricately designed “princess” dressers and nightstand was decked out with princess accessories, toys and other goodies.

A white toy box bearing her name and some princess artwork, assembled by her dad, Kevin Smith, flanked the doorway while a porcelain Princess Aurora doll lay on a tiny bed atop the new dresser.

Lydia, donning a pink princess dress and silver sparkly shoes, smiled and her eyes widened as she spied a cluster of balloons in the bedroom doorway. She immediately sat on her brand new bed.

Too shy and too excited to speak, the kindergartner surveyed the room and shook her head when asked what she thought.

“What do you think, Boots?” asked her dad. “Is it pretty great?”

Still smiling, Lydia peered into a handful of present bags and got a closer look at her new princess dolls and the porcelain Aurora.

Born with hearing issues that would improve only slightly after a few months of age, Lydia was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, an aggressive type of pediatric cancer, after a mass was found in her retina at just 5 months of age.

Even after three rounds of chemotherapy, laser treatment and being sedated over 50 times since she was born, Lydia has been a resilient and happy girl, said mom Andrea Smith. Getting the royal “princess treatment” Friday was both deserved and appreciated, said the family.

“She’s been talking about it all day long. She got to go to the salon and get her hair done. She knew something was happening (with her bedroom) but she wasn’t sure what it was,” Andrea said.

Princess Jasmine (actress Phoebe Olstad) paid a visit to celebrate the new bedroom with Lydia, and Ashley Homestore provided tickets to this year’s “Nutcracker” at the Crater Performing Arts Center in Central Point. Figaro’s in Gold Hill treated the family to pizza dinner.

“It finally feels like the beginning of maybe just a normal childhood,” Kevin said.

“A chance to let her get used to just being a kid and not be back and forth to the hospital all the time, not constantly being put under anesthesia for eye checks. She’s amazing because, to be around her, you wouldn’t know she’s had to deal with any of that. She’s a regular kid that likes princesses and wrestling with dad when he gets home.”

Still at a loss for words, Lydia nestled in between both of her parents with a shy smile.

“I got a makeover,” she whispered.

Andrea pulled her tiny princess in close and said community support had meant a great deal to the family.

“We’re just so thankful that, during what was a very long journey, we never felt like we were alone.”

Reach Medford freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

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