Document 5736

dJ I.bSt Luke's·
December 28, 2012
It is with great enthusiasm that I share with you the important difference the River Discovery 1day Family Trip made for the oncology families of St. Luke's Children's Hospital in the summer
of2012. Each one of the families on the river that day had a positive, bonding, and stress-free
experience that is hard to come by when a child is battling cancer.
What we know about illness and hospitalization is that is does not just affect the child who is ill.
Cancer affects the whole family. It disrupts the family's ability to function as they normally
would ... siblings don't want to stress their parents out by asking questions or "getting in the way"
and so a previously strong parent-child bond may start to degrade, parents have to be away at the
hospital or appointments and can't be home for the family's regular routine, and each family
member deals with the fear of death in her or his own ways. But on the river, away from the
beeps of the IV, the stress of waiting for the doctor to round, the pain ofthe needle pokes, and the
fear of watching your brother or sister get poked ... these families that are normally under so
much stress were instead laughing, splashing one another, and playing together in a way that life
with cancer doesn't usually afford. To really understand the impact the River Discovery 1-day
Family Trip made, consider these small stories from the lives of some of the families that joined
us that day:
One teen girl with cancer had spent many days and nights in the hospital during the
previous year with her little sister and mother, but her older brother had a terrible fear of
hospitals and never once visited her there. That meant that during all of the lengthy
hospitalizations that she experienced, her family had to be split apart. The river gave the
family an opportunity to all come together for the day with no interference of the hospital
or the teen's medical needs getting in the way. And the older brother got a chance to
support his sister in a way that simply wasn't possible in during her treatment. This teen
is past treatment now and wears her River Discovery t-shirt with pride when she comes
back to the hospital to visit. She looks forward to moving on to the 6-day teen trip in the
next few years, a giant step she would not have considered making if she hadn't first been
able to experience the river within the safety of her whole family.
Another family of five had spent more than a year of their baby sister's life in the hospital
as she battled two rounds of cancer. With mom in the hospital round the clock with the
baby, it is an understatement to say that the family was disjointed and stressed. While
River Discovery doesn't serve children as young as this family's little one, the 1-day
Family Trip was able to acknowledges the importance therapeutic recreation has on the
whole family and that this, in turn, supports the child with cancer. While baby sister was
at the hospital under the care of nurses, this family was able to separate for a very
important day of safe risk-taking, excitement, and bonding. In a very moving moment
just before the boat launched for the first time that day, the family sat together to
acknowledge that all of the fears and bumps that were sure to be a part of their day on the
river were nothing compared to what their baby sister with cancer deals with every day.
Sadly, this family did have to say goodbye to their little one a few months after this. And
while all of our hearts are heavy with this loss, the family continues to be buoyed by the
memories oftheir day on the river.
I could not be more emphatic in my enthusiasm for River Discovery's 1-day Family Trip. It
brought endless joy to the families who were a part ofthe 2012 run, and it is much anticipated
event for families looking forward to get their turn on the river in 2013.
Child Life
190 East Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83712
P (208) 381-7996
F (208) 381-4509
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