Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation Family Retreat Day

This Sunday, June 23, the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation will hold its annual Family Retreat Day from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD.

The day will feature speakers and discussion groups for parents and older patients, and art, games, face painting, nature activities, a puppet show and other activities for kids. Keynote Speaker Beth Wells, MD will discuss Late Effects Study Outcomes for brain tumor patients.

The Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF) offers support, networking, and information to brain tumor patients and their families, and funds research, advocacy and education on childhood brain tumors. To find out more, visit their website: www.childhoodbraintumor.org. For more information about the retreat day or to RSVP, email cbtfmd@aol.com.

Tracy’s Kids 2012 Annual Report

The 2012 Annual Report is now available!

IMG_0964

Tracy’s Kids participant at Life With Cancer

Included in the 2012 Annual Report are updates and photos from each of our five programs as well as financial information for the 2012 fiscal year.

The Art Room at CNMC

The Art Room at CNMCYou can access the

 You can access the report in the lower left hand corner of the homepage of our website or by clicking here.

20130516_120159

Kathleen Sutter and one of the Tracy’s Kids participants in the art room at MCH-San Antonio

 We are proud of the work done in 2012 and excited about all the new things happening this year for Tracy’s Kids!

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 2.27.58 PM

The entrance to Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital features Tracy’s Kids artwork all year long.

Art Therapy in The Washington Post!

One of the things that we try to do regularly at our clinic at Georgetown Hospital is provide a creative outlet for our medical and psychosocial team.  In an article published today in the Health & Science section of The Washington Post our clinical nurse manager, Jan Powers, gave a wonderful description of why making art can be so helpful during difficult times.  In this particular workshop we invited staff to get together to make art using clay.

“There was a lot of pounding and kneading, and while we made our pots or whatever, people started to talk. When your hands are occupied and you’re not in the spotlight, it’s easier to say things like ‘I feel really bad’ or ‘This child touched my heart and I’m grieving.’ It gives staff a chance to create out of something that is hurtful and painful.”

This is a great example of how the creative process and art therapists can play a very important role in supporting the other members of the clinical team.

IMG_8068

 To read the entire Washington Post article about how hospitals are using the creative arts to combat compassion fatigue follow the link:     

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/with-nurses-at-risk-of-compassion-fatigue-hospitals-try-to-ease-their-stress/2013/06/07/b92b9e86-97e3-11e2-97cd-3d8c1afe4f0f_story.html

Congratulations!

This time of year brings lots of great news about the accomplishments of our young people. With his family’s permission, I wanted to share some truly inspiring news from Tracy’s Kids participant Noah Grove.
When Noah was five, I was part of the team that helped him through cancer treatment. Though he had an above-the-knee amputation, Noah became a wonderful athlete–first playing golf, then running, and other sports. Now, ten years later, his family encouraged him to try out for the Paralympic Sled Hockey Team. At first he didn’t want to because he doesn’t consider himself disabled. Long story short, he made the training camp.
His mom shared part of the letter he got from the USA Hockey Player Development Committee:
You have been selected by the USA Hockey Player Development Committee as one of the top players in the sled hockey community and are invited to participate in the 8th Annual 2013 USA SledHockey Select Camp to be conducted July 13, 2013 through July 18, 2013 in Buffalo, NewYork. Attendance at this Camp is by invitation only.
He trains with the Wounded Warriors, too! What a great success story! Proud to know you.
WTG Noah!!!!!!!!!

Outstanding Student Citizen Award!

Tracy’s Kids participant Kailee Vance popped into the clinic at Georgetown today with some great news. At her fifth-grade graduation ceremony, she received the Ashburn, VA Ruritan Club’s Outstanding Student Citizen Award.

One fifth grader from each elementary school is selected through a blind review process. Kailee submitted a resume listing her community service activities, chief among them her ongoing support of Tracy’s Kids.

Kailee’s Run was established in her honor in 2007 and Tracy’s Kids has been the primary beneficiary every year. Kailee has also collected art supplies and toys for the kids at the clinic for many years–even when she was still receiving treatment. The really amazing thing about Kailee’s application is that she did not even mention that she had been a cancer patient–she just talked about her efforts to improve the lives of kids with cancer–and the application was reviewed anonymously, so the judges didn’t know who Kailee was. Her mom said there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the award was announced at Newton-Lee Elementary School, where everyone knows her very well!

Congratulations, Kailee, and thanks to the Ashburn Ruritan Club for the check made out to Tracy’s Kids in honor of Kailee Vance!

Ashburn Ruritan Club Outstanding Student Citizen 2013

Kailee Vance-Ashburn Ruritan Club Outstanding Student Citizen 2013

what motivated Kailee to care so very much

CNMC American Flag!

Local artist, Kari Kant, has graciously chosen Tracy’s Kids as a charitable partner for her art show on the Rooftop Terrace of the Newseum Building. A portion of the sales from her abstract paintings will be donated to Tracy’s Kids – Thank you so much, Kari!

Maybe even more exciting, she invited the children served by each of the Tracy’s Kids chapters to create their own artwork to be included in her show. Each Tracy’s Kids site has created their own version of the American flag, inspired by one of Kari Kant’s abstract motifs. To recognize the Kari Kant art show opening this evening, we wanted to give everyone a preview of the American flag created by the children and teenagers at the main campus of Children’s National Medical Center.

Our flag brings together the smaller individual works of over twenty different participants in the Tracy’s Kids program at the CCBD at CNMC. The unique qualities of each person are certainly visible, but the overall image of the flag speaks to the community that can be fostered through creativity and art-making.

 IMG_3078

Thank you to Kari Kant for supporting Tracy’s Kids and for inviting our children and their artwork to have a moment in the spotlight alongside her own paintings!

Location Change

Due to the threat of thunderstorms, tonight’s art exhibit, Abstractions by Kari Kant, with additional work by Tracy’s Kids, will be moved to its rain location, the offices of BGR Group, 601 Thirteenth St., NW, Washington, DC, Eleventh Floor. We hope to see you there!

Note rain location at bottom of invitation!!

Note rain location at bottom of invitation!!

What a view!

We are looking forward to Abstractions, by Kari Kant, this Thursday, June 6 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. on the Rooftop Terrace of the Newseum Residences.

Kari is a local artist who has adopted Tracy’s Kids as a charitable partner for her show. Each of our local Tracy’s Kids locations created a beautiful peice of American Flag themed art to display, along with Ms. Kant’s abstract paintings and American Flag themed work.

CNMC Flag

CNMC Flag

Newseum building space

Rooftop Terrace

Lombardi Flag

Lombardi Flag

LWC Flag

Life with Cancer/Inova Flag

CCBD Flag

CCBD-NoVa Flag

    I got to visit Kari and deliver the art on Saturday, and I was bowled over by the view of Washington. Participants in Tracy’s Kids and our local friends are invited to attend–but please let us know if you can make it. Meanwhile, please enjoy this sneak preview of the view from the building and the flags from Tracy’s Kids!

A Day for the Kids: Those in Treatment and their Siblings

Throughout the year Life with Cancer provides day long programs for children being treated for cancer and their siblings–those who are between 5 and 12 years old. This day combines education, art therapy, medical play, discussion and various additional programs from the community. These have included: yoga, music making, musical performances, storytelling, movement, therapeutic dogs and horses, and recreational games and activities. The goal of the day is to bring kids together who have similar experiences–either because they are in treatment or because they are dealing with the illness and treatment of a sibling. At one point, the kids in treatment break into a separate group from their siblings; this allows for the siblings to talk about their experiences without their ill brothers and sisters partaking in the conversation. It is a chance for the siblings to share with peers who are going through similar experiences and understand their perspective. Often these children share similar feelings and ways of coping, and enjoy the chance to relate to each other in a way that other peers might not be able to.

The experiences of the children in treatment are often better understood than that of the siblings. Providing support to the patient is generally–and logically–the primary focus, as treatment is extremely difficult and sometimes traumatizing. Due to the severity of the illness and the challenge of treatment, the primary focus of doctors, therapists and medical teams is inevitably–and necessarily–on that child. However, the  journey that the siblings go through is also incredibly challenging. They often experience a myriad of feelings, along with many changes at home. These children are often impacted by the shifts in the emotional makeup of their families. There are many changes over which they have no control and siblings, in turn, often feel left out, forgotten, jealous and angry about the toll that cancer has taken on their lives. They are also scared and worried about their ill brother or sister. Giving voice to these feelings and this journey seems extremely important, and these days provide an opportunity for these experiences to be expressed in an arena where these feelings are validated and supported by staff and by peers.

As a group, the brothers and sisters of cancer patients are free to share their thoughts and true feelings related to their experiences. Some siblings are especially open and clear about how disenfranchised they feel. Although there may not be a lot that can be done to shift the focus off of their brother or sister in treatment, they often find some relief and satisfaction in being with like-minded children, sharing their feelings, and having them validated. The opportunity to speak in confidence, free of their siblings or other family members, provides an opportunity to speak the truth and name the many feelings they have that may be considered unacceptable or unkind.

"I feel left out, for all the attention is on Natalie."

“I feel left out, for all the attention is on Natalie.”

Siblings hold a significant place in the journey and the puzzle pieces represent their part in their families experiences. These pieces also provide a vehicle through which many of their thoughts and feelings are expressed in an open and supportive environment.

Kid and Sib puzzle-3

Beading!

Of the many art materials available to our patients, beads are one of our most popular. Often a patient or parent will come in wanting something to help pass the time or to make a gift for a loved one.   Usually, once one person starts beading other patients and parents start to jump in and we often end up with an impromptu beading party!

IMG_8026

Creating bracelets for friends

There are so many reasons why people are drawn to this kind of project, but one of the reasons that we encourage it in art therapy is that beading provides patients, siblings and parents a way to connect with each other. It can open the door for them to laugh together, support one another and share their experiences. For some the thrill of searching for just the right bead or helping someone else find it is rewarding and a helpful way to pass the time at the clinic. Others enjoy the ability to create something beautiful for oneself and loved ones.

IMG_8027

For other patients beading can provide a means of reflection and sharing information. One patient, when he first starting coming for treatment at our clinic, created a bracelet made up of beads he selected to represent each year of his life. Some beads represented significant experiences and other beads represented things he likes. The creation of the bracelet gave this patient the opportunity to introduce himself to the art therapists and share the parts of his life that he wanted us to know about.