Child gives up Christmas wish for friend in hospital

CNJ Staff Photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis’ Harley Pena, 6, combs new hair that is finally growing back in after her last chemotherapy treatment. Pena is fighting a rare combination of two types of acute leukemia. She enjoys putting on make-up and brushing her hair.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ Staff Writer

Harley Pena of Clovis is a shy, 6-year-old girl who adores Hannah Montana. But these days her real-life hero is a fellow cancer patient, whose unselfish gift may just make this the best Christmas either of these two kids have ever known.

Sinjin Anrdukates, 14, of Copperas Cove, Texas, is giving Harley the Christmas Wish gift he was supposed to get from his hometown Optimist Club.

“If we didn’t do this, they wouldn’t have a good Christmas at all,” said Sinjin. “I want Harley to have the best Christmas ever. Because she’s been going through this hard thing for almost a year.”

Harley is fighting a rare form of leukemia. The unlikely pair met during Harley’s recent month-long stay in Fort Worth for cancer treatments.

Sinjin also suffers from cancer and the two quickly became fast friends, spending much of their time watching movies together.

Sinjin considers Harley the little sister he never had.

After a relapse in November, Harley’s family was not expecting much of a Christmas this year, according to her mother, Salina Hernandez.

“We had money set aside (for Christmas), we had to use that,” she said.

But when the Copperas Cove Optimist Club asked Sinjin for his Christmas wish, he gave it up for Harley and her family, according to Willie Goode of the Copperas Cove Optimists.

Goode said his club is now working with the Clovis and Roswell Sunrise Optimist clubs to provide the family with Christmas presents.

Sinjin says he already has what he wants for Christmas: His health. He is in remission from lymphoma after a bone-marrow transplant seven months ago.

Befriending and bonding with younger children is typical of Sinjin, said his mother, Lorna Mahaan. But he’s particularly fond of Harley, she said.

“If anything happens to Harley, Sinjin will be devastated, just devastated,” she said. “He’s been surrounded by a lot of death in this last year … probably 13 (or) 14 (children) have already passed away that he knew.”

Hernandez said Harley has been accepted to the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where she will go through experimental treatment for her disease.

For now, Hernandez said her family is just thankful for Sinjin’s gift.

“We’re grateful he gave up (his wish) to let her have whatever she wanted,” she said. “He thinks about everyone else before himself.”