One of the most prominent fears amongst children is losing a loved one. For children with a parent or family member diagnosed with cancer, life can be very scary.
Beginning July 8 Emanuel Medical Center will be expanding an already existing support group for children who have a family member with cancer, known as Monkey Business.
Previously the free support group met just twice a year for eight weeks. Now it will be offered throughout the year on a continual basis, and children can join a group at any time.
The program's expansion follows numerous requests from patients and loved ones.
“It just needed to happen more frequently, and we’re glad to be able to offer it now on an ongoing basis,” said Brittany Cotta, a social worker at Emanuel Cancer Center. “…The program really helps kids and teens understand cancer and process their feelings while someone they love goes through treatment.”
“At every meeting we have family talk time, dinner, and then break into groups for discussion and activities with parents in one group and children in another,” Cotta said. “For example, in the “What is Cancer?” session, the kids will be making sock puppets and role playing with their puppets how they could communicate their feelings.”
Nancy Daley, a facilitator with the program, said the sock puppets and other hands-on activities are an important part of the program.
“The hands-on activities help the children and teens express their feelings,” she said. “It provides a foundation to cope positively with the ups and downs that this illness can bring by providing sensory activities. The goal is to provide each child the coping skills they need to ease feeling of sadness, anger, aloneness and fear.”
The Monkey Business support group is for children and teens ages 5 to 17 who have a loved one with cancer. A parent or guardian must attend with the child. The group will meet from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on alternating Mondays every month except December and June.
The group is free and open to any child, but preregistration is required. For more information, or to register, call (209)664-5055.