In November 2007, at just nine-days-old, Paris Strickland, now 11, was diagnosed with stage 3 neuroblastoma, a rare cancerous tumor that begins in nerve tissue of infants and very young children. As a newborn Paris endured four months of intense chemotherapy and underwent surgery performed by Marleta Reynolds, MD, Head of Department of Surgery, to remove the tumor wrapped around her spinal cord.
For her mom, Lauren, seeing her daughter thrive today, she says, “It’s a miracle. Medically speaking Paris should not be here. I still can’t believe where we were and where we are now.”
That’s why it’s particularly inspiring that this holiday season Paris will reprise her role as Tiny Tim in the Goodman Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol. For Paris this role comes with great meaning and parallels to her own life and all she has overcome and accomplished.
She says about her and Tiny Tim, “We both are children that inspire people and we both have the power to change people’s way of thinking. People become more humble and giving after hearing our stories. They become better around the holidays.”
Paris, who before taking the stage last year as Tiny Tim had never performed on this scale, auditioned for the play and to her amazement was awarded the role- the first female to play Tiny Tim at the Goodman. She says, “I love being part of the theatre and I love playing such an important role. I’m grateful that they chose me; the first girl to represent such an important character. I feel pretty special that Henry Wishcamper and the cast believed in me to play Tiny Tim last year and asked me back this year.”
On Saturday, November 17, Paris will help kick-off the 41st annual production of A Christmas Carol with a special tree lighting before the season’s first performance. Paris shares that she is so blessed to do something she loves. “A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre is a wonderful story and has become a family tradition. Sometimes people forget but it’s important to remember what Christmas is all about giving to others and I think my character Tiny Tim helps people remember that.”
Paris’ cancer has been in remission for a number of years. She’s been a patient in Lurie Children’s Survivors Taking Action and Responsibility (STAR) Program, a program to assist and empower cancer survivors to grow and develop into adulthood.