Today, January 30th 2019 is Bell Let’s Talk.
Mental Health IS Health and this is no different in a cancer journey.
For the last 4 years, we’ve been listening. We’ve been drawing on Carley’s personal experiences as a cancer patient and our families, and it was about time we started talking. We, Carley’s Angels, have committed $150,000 over 2 years to the first ”Psychosocial Oncology Fellowship Program” at SickKids. This integrative program was developed to address the whole body needs of the cancer patient, yes of course that includes Mental Health! This whole body approach to cancer care includes therapies encompassing mindfulness, nutrition and support groups for cancer patients and their families.
We think this is a pretty groundbreaking step towards treating the whole body of a Cancer patient but don’t take our word for it. Let’s meet Amanda. She was a pediatric Cancer Patient at SickKids, World level Figure Skater, and now is a Survivor….
“ In July 2017, I myself was diagnosed with stage 4 non-hodgkins lymphoma and was admitted to Sick Kids hospital where I stayed as an inpatient to receive seven rounds of gruelling chemotherapy, numerous surgeries, blood transfusions, and of course, the horrible side effects from all the drugs. Being a synchronized skater for Team Canada’s junior national team, Nexxice, my training came to a halt and similar to Carley, I was unable to go to the rink, my happy place. My diagnosis also came right before my grade 12 year, so I missed out on a year of school. I am very lucky to say that I am now in remission and could not be more grateful for the care I received at SickKids. Similar to Carley, I had an integral support system of two heroes (my parents), two unbelievably selfless younger siblings, and a network of friends and family who stepped up in every way possible.
After my treatment ended, I was determined to get back on the ice, and despite barely being able to walk ten steps, I slowly built up my body back into skating shape and triumphantly skated at the junior world championships with my team last March in Croatia. I returned to school and am proud to say that I am now less than one week away from completing my last semester of high school! I am applying to university programs for next year.
Being hospitalized and missing my grade 12 year, as well as being unable to skate or live a normal life, took an extreme emotional toll on me, and it took a lot of trial and error before finding the right external support team to help me get back on track. I quickly became aware of the gaps between traditional cancer treatment and psychosocial treatment. I still struggle with the impact that cancer had and will have on me forever, so when I came across the program at SickKids that you had funded in Carley’s honour, it really resonated with me. I could not be more passionate about this hospital, or about the topic of holistic cancer care.”
Amanda then generously offered her time and experience to us as a member of our Carley’s Angels Family in hopes of getting involved with this program at SickKids she feels so strongly about!
Amanda, you are amazing, brave and generous! Thank you for being so candid with your story and showing the world why programs like this, that were once deemed unnecessary are so essential! Do like Amanda and talk, because without your voices and stories change like this would not be possible! #letstalk
By: Riley Allison