We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.Barbara De Angelis
Matthew is undeniably a very courageous teen and our Optimist Club was blessed to have him share his story with us at our September dinner meeting. He is a Childhood Cancer patient in the maintenance phase of his treatment. To demonstrate the steps of his journey over the past 2 ½ years, he pulled string after string of bravery beads out of a specially made wooden bowl. The strings just kept coming! Over 30 feet! Each bead represents some activity in his journey – every blood test, every treatment. The bowl is big and Matthew commented that “bowls are meant to be filled.”
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Matthew and his parents gave us a glimpse into what it means to live the Childhood Cancer journey. Two 6 week stays in a hospital an hour away from home. Away from school. Away from work for parents. Not only is there the physical impact on the patient, there are emotional and financial impacts on the entire family. Fortunately, medical staff and hospitals around the globe share information and ongoing research which is improving outcomes.
Locally, there are supports to help families and patients cope, including:
- Ronald McDonald House (London) gives parents a place to sleep and meals prepared by volunteers.
- ChildCan helps cover other expenses such as hospital parking and meals in the hospital cafeteria.
- The Children’s Health Foundation (London) funds many extras at the hospital, including Music and Art Therapy, which provides life-changing support to young patients.
- Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) coordinates care in satellite hospitals such as Grand River Hospital in Kitchener.
Please consider supporting one of the organizations helping Childhood Cancer patients in our community. In honor of Matthew’s courage, our Optimist Club has made a donation to the Children’s Health Foundation to support the Music and Art Therapy programs.
If your group is youth focused and you would like to be a guest speaker at one of our dinner meetings, send us an email.