Every November at Georgetown we gather in the hospital chapel for an interfaith “Service of Remembrance,” a time to remember the children who have died in our care. Though most  kids with cancer will be cured and go on to do very well, our treatments are not always successful, but all the kids we work with mean a lot to us.Heart pot

At the service we read words of comfort from  many traditions, sing , and light a candle in honor of each child whose family attends. At the reception after the service this year I was talking with the father of a very dear little girl who had died about a month before. I had worked with the patient and her siblings for all the years of her treatment. They are such creative characters–and their work in art therapy helped them express the ups and downs of treatment and get the support they needed along the way.

The patient’s dad asked me what I thought of the service.  I said I thought it was very nice, and asked what he thought. “Grateful,” he replied. “The whole afternoon just made me feel grateful.” This Thanksgiving eve, as I prepare to join family and friends, I am grateful for all the young people and families I work with every day and the many ways they challenge my imagination and enrich my life.

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One of our families has a relative serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan. They asked if the kids at the clinic would like to create a garland of “gingerbread men” to send over for the soldiers to decorate their unit. We were delighted to help out.

One day my intern and I took a bunch of blank gingerbread people up for a patient in the hospital to paint. After the patient and her sister and the art therapists were done, we had eight beautiful creations decorated with very wet puff paint. On the way back down to the clinic where our creations could dry in safety, I rounded a corner in the radiation corridor and a gust of wind blew one of our darling little people onto the floor–face down!! When I picked it up, the print it left was really a funny sight! Someone who worked in the area helped us clean it up, and the little guy looked just fine when he dried–fortunately the artist had used plenty of paint!

Gingerbread men