Until a cure is found, HELP IS NEEDED!
Over the past year, I have had the unique opportunity to become involved with several childhood cancer charities but one charity has truly touched my heart; an amazing charity that does all that it can to help kids with cancer and their families as they struggle and fight to win their battle; CANDLELIGHTERS CHILDHOOD CANCER Support Programs Inc. I have volunteered, been an Ambassador and have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with several of their families. It has been a life-changing experience.
CANDLELIGHTERS — OUR VISION…
Is to ensure that the best quality of life is afforded to every child and every family affected by childhood cancer – from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.
CANDLELIGHTERS — OUR MISSION…
Is to promote awareness and understanding regarding the impact of childhood cancer, while enriching the lives of children and their families coping with this disease.
I don’t think I truly understood what childhood cancer does not only to the young patient but also to their family and extended circle of friends until I had the chance to see first-hand the obstacles that they must go through. For instance, did you know that even though the parent(s) often have to take a leave from their job(s) to be with their child in the hospital that their mortgage, household bills and everyday responsibilities still go on? I had certainly never thought of that. Suddenly, their family unit is bringing in less money, has increased medical expenses and living expenses while at the hospital and yet are still expected to pay creditors! It is unbelievable that these stresses are still predominant even though the family’s focus is on the health of their sick child! It is something we just don’t think about. Thankfully CANDLELIGHTERS does think of these things and helps the families to cope through their AMENITIES program. This is a financial assistance program that helps families to pay household bills, childcare expenses and everyday costs that need to be addressed even though the family income is often reduced drastically. This program has been the financial assistance program that many of the families that I have spoken with needed.
Did you know that on average it costs $14.00 a day to park at the hospital? For one of my Childhood Cancer Champions, who spent approximately 216 days in hospital in her first year of treatment this would have cost over $3024.00. The CANDLELIGHTER’S Parking Pass program provides parking passes to the families of children on treatment so they don’t have to incur this additional expense.
Segregation and isolation from others is something that becomes second nature to a young cancer patient. At certain phases of their treatment cycle, they need to be isolated from others so they don’t come in contact with germs or kids with the common cold because of their compromised immune systems. This can be very impacting on a teenager especially and the patients feel alone and lonely. CANDLELIGHTERS CYBERKIDS program provides laptops to kids on treatment so they can “stay connected” to the outside world, their friends, their school and still maintain a social life even if it is only through social media. This program was certainly the most important when I asked the kids “What does Candlelighters do for you?”
We cannot truly understand what a child with cancer goes through unless we are there beside them for their entire journey but I have seen firsthand the impact that the CANDLELIGHTER’S COURAGE BEAD Program can have on an audience. This program is very unique and allows each cancer champion the opportunity to map their individual cancer journey in beads. The kids are given a leather string when their start their treatment and there are coloured beads which represent the various activities that they must go through as part of their treatment protocol. My friend and cancer champion is a motivational speaker and she tells her story to others to spread awareness for childhood cancer and the charities that support kids with cancer. She presents her COURAGE BEAD necklace when she speaks. It is extremely impacting! Her necklace (when all together) would go around the perimeter of a large school gymnasium. It catalogues every time she had blood work done, the number of nights she spent in the hospital, the numerous trips she made to the hospital clinics, surgeries that she had and chemotherapy treatment and radiation treatments that she had to endure. It gives such a powerful visual of the life of a cancer patient! It is truly heart wrenching. But my friend is proud of her necklace because it is a constant reminder of what she endured and what courage she had to go through what she did!
CANDLELIGHTERS also believe that kids also need fun nights out with their family; to leave the confines of the hospital and have an evening of fun at an Ottawa Senator’s game or a concert. Their SUITE SEATS program provides this unique opportunity and gives everyone a much-needed break from “cancer life”.
In addition to all of these amazing programs, the CANDLELIGHTERS also offer support groups for childhood cancer young survivors, parents and siblings because they are going through cancer as well. Their lives have been forever changed too and they need support and an opportunity to meet with others for peer support. Bereavement support is also offered for those families whose young cancer warriors lost their battle and their families need to find a way to go on.
It is so difficult to put into words the impact that a charity like the CANDLELIGHTERS has on children with cancer and their families. Personally, my life has been forever changed and enriched since I became involved with this amazing organization. I am honoured to be an Ambassador and to introduce many of you who may not be aware of the incredible work being done by CANDLELIGHTERS for childhood cancer kids and their families.
Thank you to CANDLELIGHTERS Childhood Cancer Support Programs Inc for all you do to enrich the lives of kids with cancer.
Stay tuned for my interview with Executive Director Jocelyn Lamont!