Kids Battling Cancer Go To Their 'Happy Places' In Dreamy Photos

“When I was getting anxious or scared, Mommy would say ‘Go to your happy place, go to your happy place.’"

A sweet photo project by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta helps kids with cancer go to their "happy places" -- whether they're imaginary islands or real places in the big world around them.

"For young patients battling childhood cancer at the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center, the practice of 'going to your happy place' is more than just a catchphrase," the CHOA blog explains. "It’s a coping mechanism that can release endorphins and assist with pain management."

From the little girl who dreams of visiting a magical land of sparkles to the boy who simply wants to go home to his own room, these brave kids rely on their imaginations to help push through tough times. This photo series helps bring the places they imagine to life.

In time for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, watch the video above and keep scrolling for photos of the stories of five little cancer fighters in their happy places.

1
Hunter’s Happy Place: A Land of Dolphin Rides and Walrus Wizards
CHOA

Thirteen-year-old Hunter was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year and has been battling brain cancer through multiple rounds of radiation, chemo, inpatient rehab, brain surgery and stings in the pediatric intensive care unit.

In Hunter's happy place, there's a walrus wizard who magically makes pandas fly. There are are also special dolphins who work as taxis. When he goes there, he doesn't have cancer and doesn't need his wheelchair.

2
Lauren’s Happy Place: Where Everything is Sparkly
CHOA

“When I was getting anxious or scared, Mommy would say ‘Go to your happy place, go to your happy place,’” says 11-year-old Lauren, who went through years of chemotherapy, CT scans and long hospital stays to treat the atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor in her brain.

Her tumor is now gone, but Lauren still remembers her happy place, a land where "everything is sparkly," and there's nothing that isn't pink, purple or blue, she told the CHOA blog. In her magic world, she plays with soft-horned unicorns, fairies, puppies, Barbies and her therapy dog Hope. There are also lots of flowers and strawberries.

3
Alex’s Happy Place: Home
CHOA

Alex was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia at age 4. After three and a half years of chemotherapy, spinal taps, bone marrow aspirates and a bone marrow transplant, the 8-year-old is now cancer free.

During his long hospital stint, the sports lover missed watching football and hockey at home. In fact, when asked to describe his happy place, Alex had a straightforward answer: "Home."

When he's in his happy place, he sees his legos, drum set, guitar, baseball cards, pictures of his favorite athletes, and TV. There's no chemotherapy or hospital when he goes there.

4
Mya’s Happy Place: Rio de Janiero
CHOA

Eleven-year-old Mya was diagnosed with bone cancer this past February, and after many tests and chemo treatments, her leg was amputated just above the knee.

Mya's happy place is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she can experience the sunshine, ocean breezes and toucans. She also imagines playing soccer and seeing the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer, which shows "Jesus with his hands out -- I really like that part of it,” she says.

When she's there, she doesn't need crutches or her wheelchair.

5
Justice’s Happy Place: Italian Picnic Surrounded by Wild Animals
CHOA

Sixteen-year-old Justice has been fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia since her diagnosis in 2013 and struggles with feelings of anger, fear and anxiety. Her happy place is a delicious picnic by an Italian castle by the sea -- with breads, pastas, cheeses and pastries. There are lots of trees, butterflies and animals.

When she's there she can escape her "feelings of dependence, anger or frustration." “Just because I’ve been dealt this hand doesn’t mean I’m going to quit the game. I have to keep playing,” Justice says.

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