I heard on CNN this morning that married couples who had one partner with cancer had a higher chance of surviving than single, widowed, or divorced people. Their conclusion was that social interaction and human connection play a huge factor in whether adults can be cured of cancer. Well the same goes for children.
|Parker loves hugging his mom, Cortney. I love how he holds her cheek!|
When I was in the hospital with Nick, I heard sick babies cry for their parents night after night after night. Overworked, the nurses carried them and tried to keep them close, but sometimes that wasn’t enough. There were many times when I almost got up and rocked those babies to sleep. It broke my heart. I’m sure it broke the heart of the parents who had to leave their children at the hospital for whatever reason. Maybe it was because they were single and had other children at home or they worked the night shift and had to pay the bills. I don’t know and don’t judge.
All I know is that healthy children need love, nurturing and contact, so imagine how much a child with cancer needs. Even at 13 years old, I cuddled with Nick on the small hospital bed and we found comfort in one another’s presence. Children need their parents to be with them, and they need other trusting adults to form a bond, so the parents can work, speak with the doctors, get some rest, and take care of the rest of their family.
|Parker knows that his dad, Adam, is his rock and gives him strength. That connection is amazing!|
Whether at clinic or in-patient, it’s the social workers, the child life specialist, and the nurses who form that bond. Angie is the child life specialist at The Melodies Center and she works with every child who comes through those doors. She helps relieve their fears about procedures and treatments and she knows what they love to do, who their favorite TV character is or their favorite sports team. Michelle and Felicia are the clinic’s social workers. Michelle works full-time and Felicia is part-time. They also provide emotional support, plus resources to help the family navigate the cancer world. These women work with 700+ children and their families a year. Nurses give the children the treatment they need to survive. They watch them like their own and keep them company when a parent has to talk to doctors. Everyone at the clinic connects and bonds with children and they feel the loss when a child dies and celebrate when a child is done with treatment. They have laughed and cried, hugged and held these precious children. Social workers, nurses, and child life specialists are all essential to the emotional and physical well-being of a child with cancer.
That’s a lot of support, but these families still need help. They need the financial support that foundations like ours give to keep positions like the child life specialist and social workers. Some of those positions at The Melodies Center are funded by foundations and donations. Families need financial resources to help pay bills, so that they can stay with their child in the hospital. Parents needs hugs and hands held.
There is so much more than medicine to get through a cancer journey. It all comes down to showing others how much we care, holding one another, and appreciating the people in our lives.
Remember September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!