I remember as a kid hearing my parents talking about two things in Seattle.... Pill Hill and how much they hated the rain. At the time, I didn't understand what that meant, but over the years, I have learned about the unprecedented resources for treating cancer in Seattle and the community that has been fostered to offer emotional support and guidance after the treatments upon Pill Hill end.
The nickname refers to the First Hill neighborhood in Seattle, where many of the hospitals sit. The community of cancer treatments in Seattle has expanded beyond this neighborhood, and permeates most parts of the city.
Over the course of the summer, I will experience the old and new cancer community. I will spend time at Seattle Children's, learning about the profound experiences of the young patients there. But I will also be in the new and emerging area of treatment, which is a support network that is spreading all over the city. Gilda's Club is not a new idea, but the notion of support communities are becoming more and more popular across the country.
While I hope to offer support to the youngest people who are battling cancer, I hope to impact the long-term support that not only the patients, but the family members need. Cancer doesn't just affect the patient, it has a serious impact on the family and siblings. I hope to find a way to integrate treatment with support, and not only support for the patient, but for the family, and specifically the siblings.
"When you are down to nothing, remember that you really do have the power to make something out of nothing." -Don Ward
This summer, I will be at Gilda's Club in downtown Seattle helping to plan Camp Sparkle.... a five day camp for kids who have cancer and their siblings. I will also work with patients through the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in the Oncology Department at Seattle Children's Hospital.