Progam Evaluation Time!

The Tracy’s Kids programs are collecting feedback from kids and families who participate at all five locations.  We are confident that we do good work, but we always want to know how we can improve.

We are asking  specifically if we are meeting our key goals: helping  kids and families in the clinic or hospital relax and calm down, deal with scary or stressful situations, have fun, express feelings, and cooperate with treatment–and if we help in other ways too. We’d love for you to tell us about the things we are doing really right,  and also hear suggestions about opportunities we may be missing.

If you participate in one of our programs, please take a minute to fill out a questionnaire the next time you visit–and if you’re all done with treatment and you don’t have to go back anytime soon, email me and I will send you a questionnaire. Thanks for your feedback!

I’ve included a little photo gallery from our past blogs just for fun.

Tracy's Kids at Carroll Square 2012

Tracy’s Kids at Carroll Square 2012

Coloring the Model Magic

Coloring the Model MagicIv pole

Ladybug fairy

Ladybug fairy

imagefiesta window


Tracy’s Kids 2012 Annual Report

The 2012 Annual Report is now available!


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.


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!

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

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

The Greater Good

Our beautiful silk hoop and origami mural at Life With Cancer

Patients and their family members often create art and then leave it in the art room to be completed or displayed. Pieces of origami and an assortment of silk hoops wait to be strung with beads to create a hanging art piece or a mobile. Sometimes interest in one technique or medium is shared by many kids and parents at the same time. This is often the case with both folding origami and painting on silk. When this happens a variety of artists often agree to combine their pieces to create a larger group art piece. Unlike the individual art pieces that reflect each artist personally, these group pieces represent the parts of their lives that they share; specifically the common bond of creating while waiting during weekly visits to the clinic for treatment. These group pieces become a beautiful representation of the collective group and they reflect the combined efforts and inspiration of the all the children, teens and parents who contribute pieces. The art making process helps to provide a different spin on this weekly experience. When the individual pieces join together they reflect the connection, cohesion and support that the children and parents provide to each other during this time. It is moving and beautiful, and it is an honor to witness.

The final piece becomes a legacy of those connections and experiences as well and a means to inspire others to create and explore.

"It is moving and beautiful, and an honor to witness."

Letting the Art Shine In

The Tracy’s Kids program at Inova Life with Cancer (LWC) is in Fairfax, VA and looks a little different than the other Tracy’s Kids programs. The outpatient clinic where patients come weekly for treatment is separate from Inova’s Hospital for Children at Fairfax Hospital, where children and teens are admitted when hospitalization is necessary. What is similar is that patients have access to art therapy in the outpatient clinic and in the hospital. However, there is another facet to this program that I also find very rewarding, which are the programs offered to families at the Life with Cancer Family Center where anyone impacted by cancer can access services. Through a grant from Tracy’s Kids, individual and group art therapy support is available to any child or teen impacted by cancer, whether they are in treatment or have a family member with cancer.

When patients and families create art at the clinic they often want to hang it on the walls of the art room. Everyone who comes there for the first time is impacted by the breadth and power of this work. It seemed important to share the art with many other people who are touched by cancer and would truly appreciate it. With the permission of the patients, siblings and parents this amazing art work was displayed in an art show at the LWC Family Center during July and August. This show was moving and powerful. The art contained so much color, energy and expression. It touched the hearts of all those who saw it, which I was told over and over again. Creating art is a healing process and it seems it also has a healing quality when it is viewed. Many thanks to all the kids, teens and parents that participated in this Tracy’s Kids program and Let Their Art Shine In at the LWC Family Center!