GRANITE CITY - When an adult is diagnosed with any form of cancer, it can be a huge emotional burden on the patient and his or her family. There is a local organization that helps celebrate all the triumphs of the patient and their families.

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Getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2021, 3 Little Birds 4 Life helps cancer patients with Birdie Baskets, celebrations for passing milestones, such as end of chemotherapy, clean scans, last day of radiation treatments, and other events and milestones along the way. Formerly, 3 Little Birds granted wishes as well to cancer patients, but because of COVID-19, no longer can grant those wishes.

"Over the past 10 years, we've had to pivot and change some things," said organization founder and head Ashley Swip, "so we're no longer doing the wish granting anymore. We're continuing to help adults, but in a different way."

That includes the Birdie Baskets, with items that are tailored to each individual's needs, and celebrations of the milestones in each patient's journey, which includes the baskets, music, a confetti shoot and photo ops with the patient and the celebratory team. Each celebration is custom designed to the patient's wishes and needs.

"We're now helping cancer patients celebrate all the wins," Swip said. "We help create a custom gift basket, and then, we come to their house with music and confetti bangs, and we help them celebrate things like a clean scan, end of chemo, their birthdays, and any things they need to celebrate."

The organization has its roots in Swip's brother's battle with cancer in 2010. The famous Bob Marley song was a favorite of Guy "Tyler" Gifford, who had a very upbeat way of assuring people that things would be good. It started as a mole on the back of his calf that didn't get treated right away, but was eventually removed. It came back as a melanoma which quickly spread to his lymph nodes in his groin area. then spread to his heart and vital organs.

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While battling the cancer, Swip realized that her brother needed one more day of doing things that he loved, so she arranged with the St. Louis Cardinals for him to hang out with the team for a day, visiting the field during batting practice, and also both the press box and radio booth, finally being able to attend the game. Gifford died on Nov. 2, 2010, and one of the lines from his favorite song --- "Don't worry about a thing, because every little thing gonna be alright" --- was printed on the prayer cards at his visitation and funeral. Through the lyrics of the song, along with Gifford's caring and upbeat nature, 3 Little Birds 4 Life was founded.

During its time, 3 Little Birds 4 Life has organized the celebrations for many cancer patients, and also helps with support, such as with daily chores and errands or transportation, and also helps with journaling with things such as preferred cleaning supplies, kid and pet routines, allergies and other items and routines in their lives.

As a bonus, the celebrations the organization has are livestreamed on their Facebook page. It's very much a fun experience for all involved. And if requested, the celebration includes the theme song of 3 Little Birds 4 Life.

"We can tell them how much we care," Swip said, "how happy we are for them, and it's a great experience. So naturally, we're trying to celebrate all the things, and life itself. We do them all live on our Facebook page, so we can show people all the happiness of what we do."

For its 10th anniversary, the organization is looking for 100 sponsors to donate $100 each to help form its Birdie Baskets and help in the celebrations of patients' milestones in their treatments.

"2021 is our 10th anniversary," Swip said, "so we're going to try to blow everything out of the water, and do some awesome things."

For more information on donations or on the organization, please E-mail Swip at Info@3littlebirds4life.org, or you may visit their website, www.3littlebirds4life.org, or you may visit their Facebook page for pictures, info and videos on their celebrations and other activities.

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