Why Give Back

When the news of cancer strikes a family, it’s hard to know how to support them. How much you get involved depends on how open the family is about the diagnosis.  Most people share their journey on a site like Caring Bridge, www.caringbridge.org which is a fantastic way to keep everyone updated and for encouraging messages to be sent to the family.  Those messages get a family through each day. Dropping off dinners, taking their dogs out for a walk, mowing the lawn or snowplowing.  A card, a hug, a text–all these acts of compassion make such a powerful impact that everyone should do it.

My favorite program that Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation provides is Nick’s Comfort Bags.  When Nick was in treatment, he received great gifts.  Toshiko, who was the Child Life Specialist at that time gave him a Giants baseball hat, because she saw he wore a Giants sweatshirt. She arranged to have Nick meet the players at their camp. He received a great backpack with school supplies, maybe not fun, but Nick appreciated it. One day in clinic Toshiko brought him a bag from The American Cancer Society.  It had fun activities, gum, pink socks and a pink journal.  Nick looked at me, laughed, and said, “I’ll still wear these.” The bag made Nick smile, which was always a precious treat.

When Nick passed I thought about this bag and how we could bring joy and activities to young adults. Emily Patchell came up with the questions that would be given to a young adult ages 10-25.  They included: What’s your favorite color, gender, clothing size, do you have an Ipod, any pets, favorite activities. Other teens from our teen advisory group called Nick’s Round Table shopped for the items and packed them into a drawstring bag for delivery to the clinic.  It has always been a huge success and seems to come at the perfect time.

The note above came from a young girl who really enjoyed the comfort bag and appreciated what people she didn’t know did for her.  Healing comes through giving back and showing compassion through a project like Nick’s Comfort Bags. When a child smiles and gets through another day, we know why we give back.

For more ways to give, go to www.fighttobehealed.org

Sample of Nick’s Comfort Bags

Relapse

Traveling the cancer journey with your child is long, painful, and often a roller coaster of humongous ups and downs. If your child is fortunate enough to get through treatment, they can begin to heal from the side effects–both physical and emotional.  The family also works on healing from the traumatic stress. For three years, give or take depending on the type of cancer, you have battled for your child’s life–always in reaction mode.  Now that’s done and you are given high hopes that if your child remains cancer free for five years, it’s considered remission.  Nothing to worry about, right?

Five years is a long time to wait and that small fear of relapse is always in the back of your mind.  Is joint pain just joint pain, a cold just a cold, or a headache just a headache? Many families have experienced the diagnosis of relapse and have been yanked back into a world they prayed was left behind.

As I scanned through Facebook, I came upon a status from an amazing woman who I met after Nick passed.  Nancy used her creative talent to give back after her son was doing well.  She created and produced a CD that is given to children with cancer.  The melodies are beautifully healing.  Her son, Zach, was just rediagnosed at age 10 after four years of hope.  In the positive manner that children possess, Zach told his mom that this time would be shorter.  This time.  He already knows what’s in store (although hopefully he doesn’t remember a lot). However, Zach doesn’t let cancer get him down.  He holds his family up with the strength and maturity that a 10-year-old should not need to have.

But like every cancer kid, Zach wants to deal with the cancer and get on with his life.  He wants to be a kid and swim with his friends.  So Zach has begun another cancer journey and if you’d like to follow his story and send him encouraging notes, please visit his website at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/zacharyswart

Zach we wish you the best and know that you will beat this disease and be cancer free. 

Fight to be Healed!

Zach in his dad’s fire gear.