Sat. Nov 28th, 2020

Daisy walsh didn’t talk To anyone about his cancer. A 6-year-old girl in Aurora, Colorado knew she had a golf ball-shaped tumor in her brain, but she remained a mummy on that subject. What was there to say?

But when he saw a picture of his new pen pal, Maggie, the dialogue changed. “It was love at first sight,” recalls her mother, Natalie Walsh. In the letters, Daisy began writing about serious topics in general, such as the size and location of her tumors and what she did at school. Maggie, as it turned out, was a good listener. He was also a dog.

Daisy Walsh, who has medulloblastoma, saw a picture of her four-legged pen pal, Maggie, “It was love at first glance,” Daisy’s mom says.(Natalie Walsh)

Daisy and Maggie are more than 150 animal-child couples who are connected through Children’s Hospital Colorado Youth and Pet Survivors, Or YAPS, program, since its inception in 2001. The one-of-a-kind Pen-Pal initiative aims to bring the benefits of pet therapy to pediatric oncology patients – whose immune immune systems are often too weak for a person to meet animals – by pairing them with dogs and cats Survived from cancer or other serious diseases. “Dogs can share with a child what it was like to receive chemo or radiation or lose their hair or whatever it was because animals have the same side effects as treating children,” a nurse at the hospital center Angels Gillespie explains. Cancer and blood disorders that established the YAPS program. For example, Maggie underwent surgery to remove a tumor in her jaw.

“Daisy really felt like she had a lot,” says Walsh, whose daughter underwent 10 hours of surgery and treated her medulloblastoma with nearly a year’s worth of chemotherapy, the most common type of malignant brain tumor. Hai, who happened in September. Daisy, now 9 years old, corresponds at least monthly with Maggie, a 12-year-old yellow lab who affixes all of her letters with paw prints.

“It’s help [Daisy] Walsh says waiting for something and not feeling well, rather than chemo and hospital visits, is “like medicine in the mail.”

And the drug works, according to the survey comparing the benefits of traditional pet medicine to the YAPS program. “The spirit of companionship, [reduction of] Fear, happiness – those gains were in the form of sending and receiving similar letters that actually meet an animal and embrace an animal in person, ”says Gillespie, who is working to establish YAPS chapters is. Children’s Hospital Across the country.

9-year-old Daisy Walsh wrote in a recent letter to her canine pen pal, Maggie, on what’s on her mind. (Natalie Walsh)

Connie Friedman, for one, hopes he is successful. As the human behind many dog ​​pen pals in Fort Collins, Colorado – a role that requires the hospital to undergo the volunteer screening process – Friedman says the program has been exceptionally rewarding for all the creatures involved . She has three legs and one from two YAPS participants who have survived bone cancer. “These dogs are … walking with their lives as if they are normal dogs, and they don’t let their disability in any way deter them – and these kids are just as resilient,” she says. “Dogs bring the best of these children.”

Such is the case for Daisy, who visits Maggie several times a year at her home in Boulder, Colorado, when the girl’s immune system is strong enough. “When Maggie is with Maggie, I see how happy she is; I see how careless she is, how she trusts,” says Walsh, who is close with Maggie’s human “mom” has gone. “I see how he opens himself to feel Maggie’s love.”

Medical disguised as fun

The YAPS program, designed to survive in children’s hospitals, is one of many offerings – and better outcomes for children serious disease Like cancer. Such initiatives are increasingly adopted as the five-year survival rates for many childhood cancers have increased in the 80s and 90s. American Cancer Society. In the past, “the chances of long-term survival were so remote that future plans … were abandoned,” the 2008 authors wrote The paper In the current oncology report journal.

Today, children’s hospitals around the country value child life specialists, for example – professionals are essentially trained in recreational medicine. “We normalize environmental conditions in hospitals by reducing anxiety and enhancing coping skills,” explains Melissa Sexton, Child Life Special Events Coordinator Riley Hospital for Children At Indiana University Health.

For example, specialists – many of whom have master’s level backgrounds in child development, education or psychology – may use dolls and fake medical devices to explain a process; Art to promote creative freedom to children in a very small environment; Or to allow celebrity guests a mental escape. “Just forgetting a little bit that they’re in the hospital – that’s a big part of how [child life teams] Hospitals are normalizing the setting, “says Sexton, who recently coordinated a” frozen “-tamed prom – with an in-house spa day and dress-shopping gaga for Riley’s young cancer patients is accomplished.

Child life programs are not welcome by the hospital’s structure, sterility, and fearful nature; Sexton says they also promote outcomes, as they consider the needs of the whole child – not what the disease will cure. One study, For example, found that child life experts helped reduce sedation – and in turn, helped cut health care costs – children undergoing radiation for tumors of the central nervous system. In. “If you look at any type of research, you realize that the results are stronger when patients comply with their care and when they trust their medical team,” Sexton says.

Here are examples of notable initiatives like YAPS in American children’s hospitals:

Taking stress out of school: Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the most stressful aspect for parents is Handling that news. “And the next question, 90 percent of the time, is’ What about school?” “Kristin Wikel, a teacher who oversees the Riley School’s program.

Riley’s “Chair in Chair” program helps hospitalized children feel connected to their peers at school.
(Riley Children’s Foundation)

This is why the hospital employs eight licensed teachers who work with kindergarten through high school patients – an unusual feature since most children’s hospitals work with teachers employed by local school systems, Wikel says Huh. But teachers at Riley work with patients’ schools to get lesson plans and homework – even occasionally driving to schools to pick themselves up, say, a textbook – and children in the hospital. Tutor. If students are good enough to leave their room, they can work with peers of similar age in hospital-based classrooms; If they are not, they can receive tuition at the bedside. As far as they know, a patient has not been taken back to school because of his time in a relay, Wikel says. “It’s part of the culture: when you’re here, you’ll go to school,” Wickle says, adding that this standard helps normalize the hospital experience for young patients whose world revolves around school before their diagnosis was.

In the meantime, he can be sure that his hospital colleagues don’t forget him. In addition to scrapping with classrooms, Riley’s “The Chair in the Chair” program enables children to be hospitalized for two weeks or more, so that large stuffed bears can return to their homes at their school desks. “Schools really get into it,” says Wickel, noting that the Bears have been known to participate in basketball games, serve detention, and wear pigtails. “It takes the child’s personality.”

Laughter as Medicine: St. Louis Children’s Hospital at Washington University

“Funny” and “childhood cancer” rarely appear in the same sentence, but St. Louis Children’s Hospital, They take place in the same room. Through the hospital’s Clown Docs program, young patients with cancer and other conditions enjoy seizures, jokes, tricks and of course,. LaughingFrom professional clowns. “Their job is to use humor to distract our patients, and their philosophy is that laughter is the best medicine,” says Megan Rainey, the hospital’s child life supervisor.

The feet of the theory are: a recent qualitative study, For example, found that therapeutic psychics changed children’s attitudes on their hospital visits for the better. one more study It was found that the presence of such entertainers reduces the level of the hormone cortisol in hospitalized children. “[Chemo] Can be a really scary and uncomfortable thing, and you can see the kids when the clown docks comes in, “says Renee.” It was going to be a very difficult day in fact that what they were doing was almost over. Looking forward to it next time. ”

The same can be said for the Child Life Program. Yoga The therapist, who helps children relax, learns pain-management techniques and improves motor skills – sometimes by directing them to imitate their favorite movie characters. “Sometimes other people are failing [the kids] Out of bed, “says Renee,” and then she comes and they’ll get out of bed.

Healing Creativity: Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital

Vismil Marquez, who had been in treatment at Mount Sinai for almost eight years, co-hosted his first live broadcast on the hospital’s Kidzone TV. (Anna Medaris Miller)

Vizmail Marquez hears a 30-second countdown, looks out of his seat at a desk and lights up. Work. “Hi everyone!” A 21-year-old college student from Waterbury, Connecticut saw waves in the camera. For the next 30 minutes, Marquez has no patients Sinai Mountains – She is a TV star. “It’s a bit nervous, but I like it,” Marquez admitted after the live broadcast, which he co-hosted with the station’s producer, Lauren Smith, a creative arts therapist.

Kidzone TV, a close-circuit channel that broadcasts three live, interactive shows in the hospital every day, is produced, hosted and watched by many young patients such as Marquez, who has been treated for sickle cell anemia since the age of 13 has been done. While hospitals have similar channels, Kidzone TV stands for the frequency of its programming, says Diane Rhode, who directs the hospital’s Department of Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy. In this way, she says, they can achieve one of the goals of the program: “to truly impact the patient’s experience for children and families achieving all levels”.

For example, today’s broadcast took viewers on Guggenheim’s predecessor tour and directed them through a art project. Children from across the hospital could participate before the show by creating their own building designs with materials dropped into their rooms and called to share what inspires their creations. Other TV programs include game shows – including awards – and behind-the-scenes urination at various corners of the hospital.

TV programs also benefit members of their young production “staff” such as Marquez. “We are not interested in making videos and content just for entertainment or entertainment about Patients and families, “Rhode says.” It is about the creative process. “His department also publishes a literary magazine of Rogi poetry, hosts Rogi band and produces music videos starring Rogi singers, actors and rappers.

“If we are looking for flexibility, we should have a lot of options,” Rhode says, “and we need to present them in ways they can choose and we can provide solutions to their conflicts Can. “

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