Child Life Specialists
Every morning when we stroll into room 11 at Seidman Cancer Center we are greeted by Child Life Specialists. What is a Child Life Specialist? They are superheroes and fairies and comedians and psychologists wrapped into one. Or, according to google: Child life specialists work closely with children and families in medical settings, serving as emotional support and helping develop family coping strategies. With a background in child development, psychology and counseling, child life specialists help explain medical jargon to kids and prepare them for procedures.
From the moment we walked into the emergency department, to Clare's port surgery, to each and every radiation appointment, we have had a wonderful child life specialist by our side. Because Clare is being treated for cancer, and because she needs to be sedated for her treatment, we get TWO child life specialists each day. Clare thinks she gets two specialists because she is really fun to play with.
Jeff from Pediatric Sedation and Stephanie from Hematology/Oncology have helped Clare immensely. They have tea parties with Clare; they introduced her to glitter play dough; they play "hospital glove balloon volleyball" with her. And all of these things are amazing, but I LOVE Jeff and Stephanie for the support that they have provided Chris and me during this process.
When Clare leaves the hospital room for radiation, Jeff and Stephanie tell amazing stories to distract us from the sadness of the setting. Or, when I need to talk, they listen and assure me of my instincts as Clare's mom. Sometimes, they steal Clare's snacks before she wakes up from her sedation. (I bring really good snacks.) When I have to run into the bathroom to cry, they take over and make sure that Clare's treatment is sandwiched between a"Let it Go" karaoke session and a barnyard blast, full of loud animal noises that likely make the adult cancer patients question their decision to pursue treatment at this institution. It is amazing.
Now that we are nearing the end of radiation, I simply do not know what WE - as a family - would have done without the support of child life specialists.