For 12-year-old Brooklyn Paccione, running her own candle company isn’t business — it’s personal.
Brooklyn started Candles for a Cure in July 2020, inspired by her mother, Tabitha. Brooklyn decided to sell homemade candles because Tabitha likes having candles around the family’s home. And Brooklyn’s mission — to spread awareness about lung cancer, as well as hope — grew out of Tabitha’s journey through Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, now in remission after treatment at City of Hope.
Tabitha was a healthy, nonsmoking 35-year-old when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. What had started as a persistent cough was followed by 10 months of inaccurate diagnoses.
By the time her cancer was discovered at City of Hope, it had metastasized. Her physician, Ravi Salgia, M.D., determined that Tabitha’s cancer resulted from a rare genetic mutation, and he gave her a targeted therapy that had her feeling better within weeks. After three years, Tabitha was declared cancer free in 2019.
Brooklyn earmarks a portion of the proceeds from each $10 candle for lung cancer research at City of Hope.
“We understand how much the science matters,” Tabitha said. “We want to shine a light on all of the things City of Hope is doing to continually advance the research and provide us with the best treatments so I can still be ‘Mom’ and celebrate the holidays with my family and go to all of Brooklyn’s activities.”
A bright idea
In the short time Brooklyn’s been in business, she’s already developed a line of fragrant candles hand-poured into 8-oz. Mason jars. The seventh-grader taught herself candle-making after researching it and watching YouTube videos with her father, Anthony. Her family got involved, too: Anthony also encouraged Brooklyn to draw up a business plan, her brother, Dylan, helps with the business math and web pages, and all the Pacciones pitch in to make candles in the kitchen.
The candles feature her mom’s favorite fresh and fruity scents, as well as teal labels with a white ribbon for lung cancer and the slogan “Candles for a Cure. Join the fight. Made with love and hope by Brooklyn.” She also handwrites the name of each candle because “it’s like sharing a part of me.” The candle names are messages with special meaning to the Pacciones. For instance, a red candle, scented like fruit punch, is called All Lungs “because we want to spread the message that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer,” Brooklyn said.
The spark stays lit
It hasn’t always been easy. Brooklyn was only 7 at the time of Tabitha’s cancer diagnosis and struggled with separation anxiety because she was so close to her mom.
Since then, however, Brooklyn has grown tremendously, Tabitha said, and developed a heart to serve others in need. She’s organized a present drive for underprivileged children and single-handedly organized a cancer awareness week at her school. The family has also donated around 40 candles to City of Hope for distribution to lung cancer survivors.
“To see that my 12-year-old can take a really terrible thing that happened to her mom and turn it around and want to help other people is just amazing,” Tabitha said.
Brooklyn gives a lot of the credit to her mom, who held garage sales and bake sales to raise money for cancer awareness efforts. “She inspired this whole family to do so much to spread the word about lung cancer,” Brooklyn said.
A burning desire to help others with lung cancer
City of Hope’s highly specialized and compassionate care means everything to the Pacciones. Tabitha said Dr. Salgia and her medical team fought for her as well as her family.
“They knew that almost everyone in my family would come to my follow-up appointments,” Tabitha said. “They would have chairs ready for all of us in the waiting room, and Dr. Salgia would hug everyone. I've had some tough days, and it makes a big difference being at City of Hope. I feel taken care of, not just medically, but on an emotional level, too.”
Brooklyn said Candles for a Cure is the realization of a dream: Not only did she start her own business, but she also gets to spread hope and joy to people who need it.
“I'm beyond proud, because she isn't just fighting for us, she's fighting for other people,” Tabitha said. “That's what really matters. That's the promise of our journey. We want people to know that no one fights alone.”
Learn more about how your generous gift can help City of Hope Orange County fulfill its promise to provide world-class cancer care closer to home. If you need care now, call (949) 763-2204 or schedule an appointment with a highly specialized cancer physician at City of Newport Beach.