For Carol, a single mother of three and a teacher and coach, shaping the future meant investing in the lives of children – both her own and others. But when she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in 2005, she suddenly found herself searching for resources to give the children in her life the support they needed to deal with this huge change in their lives.
She began aggressive treatment, and though she did her best to carry on with life as usual, she had minimal strength and experienced extreme side effects from the treatment.
“I was fighting the fight of my life,” says Carol. “It took everything out of me. I could hardly help myself. How could I help my children?”
Carol could see the fear that her children held inside. Would Mom survive? If not, who would they live with after she died? Her oldest son, Mike, did not even want his mom to go out in public without wearing her wig in fear that someone might look at them differently. There were so many difficult emotions they were facing, and Carol knew she had to find a way to help.
An answer was soon on its way. After receiving financial assistance from Angel Foundation to help pay her mortgage bill, Carol found out about Kids Kamp – a place where children and teens who have a parent with cancer can have fun and connect with others who understand their journey, at no cost to their family.
Mike, former Kids Kamper turned
Teen Mentor, is attending college
and doing well.
But Carol’s kids did not want to go – especially her 14-year-old son Mike. Getting Mike into the car for the first day of camp was a challenge and once they were there, he wouldn’t get out of the car. Eventually he did, and Carol then left for her eight-hour chemotherapy treatment. When she returned later that day to pick up her children, she was exhausted and extremely ill. She sat in her car for a moment, put on her wig and did her best to appear upbeat and “normal.”
Mike ran to help her out of the car (as he always did), but this time he leaned his head to her ear and said, “Mom, it’s ok if you take your wig off here…everyone is the same here.” At Kids Kamp, Mike had discovered the power of knowing he was not alone in having a parent with cancer, and he had a lot less fear because of it. His mom’s cancer no longer meant he had to be “different” because there were lots of other children and teens who traveled the same journey.
“I believed my purpose in life was to make a difference in a child’s life. Little did I know that someone else [at Kids Kamp] would make such a big a difference in my child’s life,” says Carol. That’s the power of Kids Kamp.