Back to School Program Helps Kids with Cancer

Released: 7/23/2010 1:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
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Newswise — “This is a special IV okay and this is how Charlotte gets most of her medicine, through this.”

KINDERGARTEN PUPPET SHOWS USUALLY DON’T COVER SUCH SERIOUS TOPICS. BUT FIVE-YEAR OLD CHARLOTTE O’SHEA HAS CANCER AND HER CLASSMATES HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS.

“It’s called Chemotherapy…chemo…I don’t think I can say that.”

THE PUPPET SHOW IS PART OF THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL PROGRAM AT DANA-FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE IN BOSTON. IT’S DESIGNED TO
REDUCE THE ANXIETY OF CHILDREN LIVING WITH CANCER. LISA SCHERBER (SHER-BURR) HEAD’S UP THE PROGRAM.

“We want to take away the fear the classmates might have of being able to play with her the same way that they played with her beforehand. It’s also for her classmates to sort of make them feel like it’s okay, we can support our friend because now we understand what cancer is.”

SCHERBER SAYS WHEN YOUNG PATIENTS RETURN TO SCHOOL, MANY TIMES THEIR CLASSMATES WONDER IF IT’S SAFE TO HUG THEM, WHY THEIR HAIR MAY BE THINNING OR MISSING, OR IF THE CANCER IS CONTAGIOUS.

“Did you learn anything today? Yeah. What did you learn? You can’t get it. You can’t catch Cancer? Yeah.”

OTHER QUESTIONS AREN’T SO SERIOUS. CHARLOTTE IS HAPPY TO ANSWER.

”Do they ask you what you eat in the hospital? Yeah. What do you tell them? Jell-O and popsicles. That’s the good part right? Yeah? Yeah.

CHARLOTTE’S PARENTS THINK THE PROGRAM IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF HER TREATMENT.

“Cancer is a really scary thing and for them to just hear basic information about her treatment, I think it’s really helpful.”

FOR CHARLOTTE, CANCER IS TOUGH ENOUGH. IT HELPS WHEN COMING TO SCHOOL IS THE EASY PART.

The Back-to-School program was started in 1997. The American Cancer Society estimates more than ten-thousand children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer every year.

For more information on the back-to-school program, go to dana-farber.org


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