Childhood Cancer Survivor Blogging about the World of Childhood Cancer

Posts tagged ‘Children’s Hospital Of Atlanta’

Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, Aflac, and Carl Edwards

Grace: A Child's Intimate Journey Through Cancer And Recovery

The wild storm held off just long enough for us to reach our hotel in Atlanta before it busted loose with strong winds and buckets of rain. The drive from New Orleans seemed to go quickly as we drove over Lake Pontchartrain; it was enormous and beautiful in the early morning sun. The hurricane damage to the trees is still very evident in areas around the lake. Before we knew it, we were already through Mississippi and on the tree-lined interstate driving through Alabama. One very odd thing we noticed about Alabama was there was not one bird in sight. They must have been hiding in the trees!

Georgia was a surprise. I did not expect the beautiful streets that had tree branches laden with leaves covering them. It felt cozy and comfortable.

We met Jessica from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta early in the morning. We discovered that parking around children’s hospitals can be challenging, but Jessica very kindly met us out in front to offer us up-front parking. We discovered that kindness is just one of Jessica’s qualities as she proceeded to give us a terrific, informative tour of their children’s hospital. Aflac is a huge support to CHOA… if you would like to see how they help: http://www.choa.org/childrens-hospital-services/cancer-and-blood-disorders/about-us/how-aflac-supports-us

With Jessica at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

My brother, Nicholas, is a huge racing fan. He is a senior who is studying mechanical engineering. He is on the Hornet Racing Team at Sacramento State where he helps to build and design their race car that they bring to competition each year. I have become educated about racing through Nicholas, and one of the NASCAR drivers who has become my favorite is also a huge supporter of CHOA. Carl Edwards has devoted his time and money to help. For those of you who are not familiar with NASCAR, Carl does a back-flip each time he wins a race. After one win, he took out the Beads of Courage necklace that a cancer patient had given him and placed it around his neck. There is a photo of this in one of the art rooms for children, along with the trophy he won from this race.

Thank you again, Jessica, for the tour of your amazing children’s hospital. Thank you to Aflac; may you be an inspiration to many other corporations!

Carl Edwards, you were already my favorite because of your warm spirit. I guess that now you must be my Ultra-Favorite!

Carl Edwards Photo at Children's Hospital of Atlanta

Bye Bye New Orleans, Hello Atlanta

Without internet connection for two days, I feel there is so much I have missed sharing!

Very first, I want to thank Tiffany at New Orleans Children’s Hospital for helping me to be able to meet individually with children fighting cancer and their parents. This is the very first time I had the opportunity to go to each room to meet the children. I will be entirely honest with you when I tell you that my intention– each time I entered a new room– was to share hope with everyone I met in the room. By the time I walked out of each room, it was me who was inspired by the children. Each child, from little bitty ones, to teenagers, gave me something in my heart that I cannot even describe with words, as hard as I search for them. I met a one-year-old boy who had spent eight weeks in intensive care, with kidney failure and liver failure. Yet, there he was, sitting up by himself in the window seat of his room, like a real-life miracle. He was a bit timid at first, but when I showed him a photo of me with no hair and a therapy dog, he relaxed and smiled. The teenagers I met were very different than the little ones. They have a much greater understanding of what they are facing, and I could sense their fear. When I pointed to their beds and told them I was right there where they are three years ago, I could see their expressions change.

I could see HOPE.

And this is why Mom and I are traveling on this mission. We want HOPE for all of the children fighting cancer. We want less toxic treatments that will allow more children to live and to live a healthy full life after their battle. More people need to come forward to help, just like Benji Palus. I had the amazing opportunity to meet Benji at New Orleans Children’s Hospital when I was finished meeting with the children. Knowing how Benji volunteers hours and hours of his time to help children at the hospital, I imagined he must be quite a special person. When I actually got to meet him, his warmth, joy, and love far exceeded my expectations. Is there anyone who would like to hop on board the stop childhood cancer battle and become Benji-like? These hospitals need volunteers like Benji; the children need them and the parents need them. Sorry about the photo posts– click to see the whole photo!

With Benji and Tiffany at New Orleans Children's Hospital

On Friday night and Saturday, Mom and I attended the American Library Association Conference. To our great surprise, we met someone who helped us through my cancer treatments. When I was first diagnosed, my social worker, Robyn, gave us books and information. One of the books was written by a mom whose child survived cancer, and her name is Nancy Keene. I can see many of you who have lived in the world of childhood cancer nodding your heads like you know exactly who she is. Well, she and her lovely daughter, Allison, had a booth at the conference and Mom and I nearly screamed with delight when we saw she was there! We spent a long time talking together, and meeting her was the absolute highlight of the whole conference!

Today, we arose quite early and pointed HugoHopeMobile toward Atlanta. We traveled from Louisiana, through Mississippi, through Alabama, and into Georgia. Tonight, we are plopping into our beds in Atlanta. Tomorrow morning, we’ll be rising and shining early to go to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. After that, we’ll continue northward to North Carolina. Unfortunately, I heard back from Duke Children’s Hospital. and I have to be eighteen to be able to visit with patients. 

Looks like I will have to use my time there wisely. I have an appointment to look at the University. Dr. Kleinerman told me some very great things about Duke University! I will be filling out college applications this coming fall. 

One way or another, cancer, I am out to stop you!

Wisdom on the Wall of Livestrong Headquarters

                                      

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