Christmas tree brings cheer to cancer patient

Dec. 17, 2013 @ 05:31 PM

The Christmas tree standing in Natalie Parry’s front yard may not be traditional, but for Parry, there’s not a more beautiful Christmas tree in the world.
On Tuesday afternoon, friends decorated the 10-foot tree with lights, ornaments and large, handmade pink ribbons.
And, most of all, with love.
“It makes me cry,” says Parry, a 37-year-old Archdale woman battling lymphoma. “I’m very humbled and honored that they even thought of doing something like that for me.”
The tree was the brainchild of Parry’s friend, Chris McGee of Trinity, who calls it a “Cancer Cheer Christmas Tree.”
McGee bought the tree over the weekend at a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm in Boone, where he and his daughter Kaylee had gone to pick out their own Christmas tree. He had invited Parry’s daughter, Logan — who is friends with Kaylee — to go with them, and that’s what gave him the idea to get a large tree for the Parrys’ front yard.
On a whim, McGee pointed to a large Christmas tree at RRR Tree Farm and asked the owner how much it would cost. The owner, knowing McGee had already picked out a tree for his own home, asked what he planned to do with the larger tree.
“You see that little girl over there?” McGee replied, pointing to Logan. “Her mom’s got cancer, and she’s in a real tough battle right now. Depending on what that tree would cost me, I was thinking about buying it and putting it up in their front yard, and then getting some friends to help me decorate it, just to create some Christmas cheer.”
The man sold it to him for $30, well below what he normally would’ve charged.
McGee tried to surprise Parry by putting the tree up Monday while she was at a doctor’s appointment, but she returned earlier than expected and found McGee and another friend, Greg Williard, still digging the hole.
“Why are you digging a hole in my front yard?” Parry asked in bewilderment.
McGee hemmed and hawed, finally explaining that it was a “surprise tree.” That’s all he told her, and the two men finished putting up the tree.
On Tuesday, McGee returned with two other friends — Lisa Zoppo and Rebecca Saunders — to decorate the tree. Along with white lights and colorful Christmas balls, they adorned the tree with large, pink ribbons — symbolic of cancer support — which Saunders made by hand.
“It was nothing but pure pleasure doing this,” McGee says. “We kind of hated to get finished with it.”
Parry, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in June 2012 and is receiving chemotherapy, was thrilled. She came outside and posed with the tree and the decorators.
Then she went to Braxton Craven Middle School, where one of Logan’s teachers — Leslie Jenkins — was shaving her head to show her support for Parry. Since Parry’s hair was already falling out from her chemo treatments, she decided to shave her head at the same time.
Then she returned home, and Tuesday evening she got to see her new Christmas tree lit up for the first time.
“This is what community’s all about,” McGee says. “I couldn’t do something like this all by myself, but collectively we can do a lot and show people in our community how much we care.”
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579