|CANCER & TREATMENTS FOR CANCER CENTER PATIENTS PREVENTION & RISK ASSESSMENT CLINICAL TRIALS & RESEARCH LIVING WITH CANCER|
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah: Ready for Summer Camp?Nighttime.
You've never seen the sky twinkle quite like this. Look, another shooting star! Campfire's out, but you still smell it. And the bugs, wow, they're loud, but the giggling is louder.
Yep, it's time to start thinking about summer camp -- especially for children with cancer and their siblings. Several camps nationwide are dedicated to children whose lives have been impacted by cancer.
Kevin smith, a 15-year-old Canton high school student who is two years out of treatment for t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, has been hooked on summer camp for five years.
For the most part, it's just like camp," he said. "But in the end, it's the people you make friends with. Everybody's gone through hardships related to cancer, and they understand exactly what you went through.
"You're having so much fun, you forget all these kids had cancer, too."
The programming is similar to most traditional summer camps, but these camps have pediatric oncology physicians and nurses on site at all times. The medical team administers routine chemotherapy and medications, monitors blood counts, cares for catheters and handles other health-care needs.
Sue smith, Kevin's mother, said she never worried about her son's safety at camp. He first went to Camp Quality, in Petoskey, while he was still in treatment. Since then, he's gone to two more camps: Camp Mak-A-Dream, in Gold Creek, Mont., and Special Days Camp, outside of Jackson.
"As a parent, this is your time, too. It was a nice break for my husband and me to be able to turn the medical care over to someone else, to let them deal with counting the pills," she said. "It made an abnormal situation seem almost normal."
Some camps offer programs for siblings of children who have cancer. When families are dealing with cancer, it's difficult to balance needs and relationships. Often, siblings take on more responsibility at an earlier age.
"Childhood is such a brief time," Morris said. "summer camp is an amazing opportunity for children who are coping with cancer to just be kids in an environment that truly understands their needs."
Kids who go to camp tend to return year after year, said Jessica porter, a U-M Child Life assistant who volunteers at Special Days Camp. Sometimes, when they're older, they become counselors. Camps, such as Camp Mak-A-Dream, are starting to offer programs to address issues faced by young adults as well.
"And, really," Porter said, "Who doesn't love summer camp?"