Family Connections

What does a 17-year-old and a 9-year-old have in common? Music–both love hip hop and Ariana Grande; arts and crafts–making Valentine hearts to decorate their rooms; beautiful hats; journaling; laughter.

Their cancer diagnoses may forced them to stay in the hospital, but their gorgeous smiles portray their love of life and need for connection. Whether it’s in the hospital, at a coffee shop, at a YMCA, or someone’s home, Family Connections, an emotional support program through Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, brings families and patients together to share their stories, heal, have fun, and forget about cancer for a while.

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Shade and Angelica spending time together.

That same night the first Family Connections of the year was held at the Pediatric Behavioral Health building at Albany Med. Nick’s Fight works with the social workers and Child Life Specialists at The Melodies Center to make these events happen. Thank you to Mary Beth, Katie, DeeDee, and Meghan for helping to organize this night.

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The entire family is welcome and dinner is always served. It’s one less detail parents have to think about, so they and their children can have an easy and enjoyable night.

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Stories are shared and the rest of the evening is split between learning different journal writing techniques and restorative yoga. The groups split between younger children for more playful yoga and creative journaling, then the adults/young adults practice restorative yoga and equally creative journaling, but with deeper journal prompts.

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Thank you to Sydney Joyce and her Girl Scout Troop #2328 in Clifton Park for donating and writing positive quotes in each journal.

Everyone who attends receives a Nick’s Fight journal or journals that are generously donated by the community.

Our stories are important. Sharing them can be healing, and they can also help someone else going through a similar journey to feel hope and bond with that person. We had three young adults, one who is a long-term survivor from a bone marrow transplant, another who is in the midst of having side effects from hers, and another preparing to go to transplant. Those shared stories had such a positive effect on everyone, and it created a sense of unity and sacred space.

We wrote about what brought us joy, how we could be present right where we are, and personalized the journals to make them ours.

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Mary Beth, the child life specialist, and Shade writing together.
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Kassidy, in front, traveled all the way from college in Utica, to make the event.
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Families that journal together have a great deal of fun!
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Thank you Lynn for sharing the yoga program in Karen’s place.

Being in bed for hours and not having space to move or stretch can cause stress on the body and mind. The Flow to be Healed Yoga Program created by Karen Patchell allows anyone to do yoga no matter where they are in their journey. It’s about creating space on your mat and in your mind to accept what your body can do right in this moment and do it!

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Shade and Alyssa met tonight and formed an immediate bond!

No matter where you are, there is hope. No matter where you are in your cancer journey, there is Family Connections. Any family of The Melodies Center is welcome. For more information, contact Janine or visit our website at www.fighttobehealed.org

If you’d like to donate journals or gift cards for dinner, they can be mailed to NFTBHF, PO Box 217, Rexford, NY 12148 or contact Janine at janinecammarata@fighttobehealed.org

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Jack, a teen volunteer, and Chase have developed a deep friendship through this program.

 

Family Connections Program

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It takes amazing doctors and medicine to physically heal a child with cancer. It also takes social workers, child life specialists, music therapists, art therapists, therapy dogs, and other forms of therapy to emotionally heal a child and their family from cancer. This isn’t a quick fix. During treatment, many programs are available when a child is inpatient or in the clinic. Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, along with many other practitioners and fabulous foundations, provide distractions and stress-relieving programs. These are just as important to help a child, their siblings, and family live a fulfilling life after treatment.

This idea of connecting our families outside of the clinic and hospital has long been a wish for our foundation. With the guidance of Courtney Hill, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and OSW-C (Oncology Social Work Certified), this is now happening.

On Wednesday, March 7, the pilot Family Connections program will begin. Its purpose is to bring families affected by cancer, no matter where you are in your journey, together to build community, share thoughts, feelings, ideas, and connections.

Karen Patchell, board member of Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, is a Baptiste-inspired Registered Yoga Teacher for children and adults. She began the Flow to be Healed program at the clinic in February 2017. Fun games and simple poses empower a child to develop tools that help them move and use breath and focus to take their mind off any distractions or discomfort. Yoga improves their self-confidence and heals mind, body, and spirit. Children and siblings will have their own separate yoga activity and then parents, caregivers, and older teens will have the opportunity to stretch, flow, and decompress. Remember to wear comfortable clothing! That’s all you need.

Janine Cammarata is co-founder and president of Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation. She started the foundation in memory of her son, Nick, who passed away on October 26, 2008. Janine is a published author and teaches journaling for healing and self-awareness through her Write to be Healed program. Journaling encompasses so many different art forms and topics from daily events, junk journaling, goal setting, tracking, and buckets lists. But it can also be transformative, life changing, as well as healing.

This program is open to everyone in your family. We hope you can take advantage of it. The next one is scheduled for April 4. Below are some FAQs you might have. Please let Courtney know if you can come, so we can have enough supplies for everyone.

It takes more than medicine to heal and together we are stronger.

group FAQ