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|
Friday, June 8 was the Relay for Life at the Shenendehowa High School’s Track field. Nick’s Round Table, a teen advisory group, was in charge of the Fight Back segment of the evening at 11:15pm. 25 teens were lined up the steps of the bleachers and one by one they held up a photo of a sibling, a friend, or a classmate who either lost their battle with cancer or was still fighting. The crowd was silent and attentive.
They spoke about what Nick’s Round Table does:
Awareness: Raises awareness about pediatric cancer.
Dignity: Members treat each other and kids with cancer with honor and respect.
Hope: They provide hope through comfort bags, birthday packs and cards to help kids feel special.
Healing: Promote healing by raising money to support families, update DVD’s and videogames to make their hospital stays more comfortable.
They explained what others can do to help someone with cancer:
Courage: Hold their hands, go to appointments with them, share your strength to help them get through each day.
Laughter: The best medicine. It’s a great distraction during treatment.
Respect: Treat kids with cancer like human beings. Have patience when they are having a hard time.
Strong: Be encouraging, optimistic. Don’t lose it in front of them, but it’s OK to cry.
Friend: Be a friend. Keep in touch. Listen. Be in the present moment when you are with them. Text. Watch a movie. Play a game. Be supportive.
|Members of Nick’s Round Table–The Fighting Dragons Team!|
Teens ranging from 6th-12th grade came up with these ideas. They empower other teens to fight against cancer, inspire adults to reach out and make a difference. They ease their own grief by giving to others.
Teens Helping Teens Fight Cancer. I am so proud of them and am confident that some day these teens will grow into compassionate adults who will conquer cancer once and for all.