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Online community rallies around infant with rare tumor

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Hashtag spreads hope and support

Marianne Canada's son Hugo was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer just days after his first birthday. In the days following his devastating diagnosis, she shared the news with her "pocket friends," her social circle on Twitter. Canada's friends responded by rallying to support her family and Hugo's battle against cancer.

Early this year, we shared the story of how Marianne Canada's career took her from bartender to host of HGTV's Weekday Crafternoon. Last week, in a whirlwind series of doctor's appointments, her infant son was diagnosed with a rare tumor. He started chemotherapy on Tuesday.

Within hours, Canada's friends began an email thread brainstorming ways to support Hugo and his family. A donation page was set up, and friends divided themselves into teams to organize care packages and meals. In less than a week's time, friends and coworkers have raised over $27,000 toward Hugo's medical expenses.

Supporting a friend in need

Over the past few days, Hugo's supporters have shown that online friends are real friends — and that they can be really resourceful. On a recent evening full of anxiety and fear, Canada tweeted that she was craving cheesecake. An hour later, a cheesecake delivery showed up at the hospital. Though Canada has only asked for prayers and hope for her baby, her friends — many of them mothers — have mobilized to do whatever they can to help the family through this difficult time.


As the story of Hugo's fight has spread, the hashtag #gohugo has begun to go viral on Twitter and Instagram. Dozens of photos and notes have been shared by friends and celebrities cheering Hugo on. At a time when hope is essential, these simple gestures of faith have brought comfort to the Canada family.

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