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Young Cancer Patients Get A Gift

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Aired 9/29/09

A group of cancer patients from Rady Children's Hospital were given a special treat today. They got to play with dolphins at SeaWorld.

Cancer patients from Children’s Hospital take turns petting a dolphin at SeaWorld.
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Above: Cancer patients from Children’s Hospital take turns petting a dolphin at SeaWorld.

— Some cancer patients from Rady Children's Hospital got a nice break yesterday. They got to play with dolphins at SeaWorld.

The kids were outfitted in special SeaWorld wetsuits as they waded in the dolphin tank. They were guided by two trainers, one of them a cancer survivor herself.

Trainer Joy Clausen was stricken by non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as a young adult. She was treated at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.

Clausen said she was struck by how kids' faces would light up when she would talk about dolphins.

"And so about a year and a half ago, I talked to my boss about it, and he was able to help me make it happen," Clausen said. "So we're here today with bringing kids into the water from Rady Children's Hospital."

And the dolphins put on quite a show. At one point, they splashed the kids with swipes of their powerful flukes. The kids got to pet the dolphins, too.

Seventeen-year-old Briahanna Shroyer said she was scared at first when the dolphin swam towards her.

"Right when the dolphin came up, I kind of was afraid, because it made like a weird sound and I saw the teeth," Shroyer said. "But the fear like went away like really quick, like once I got to touch it."

Clausen said she tries to give a special message to the kids.

"Even though you have something like this happen to you early on in your life, you're not stuck, you know, you can dream big, do whatever you want," said. Clausen. "Here I am, I'm working at Sea World. No one would ever know that I ever went through the treatments, and I had cancer."

As the kids came out of the pool, they all had big smiles on their faces.

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