Child & Family Support
This program tells the story of each child’s individual journey throughout their cancer treatment. Upon diagnosis the child receives a length of leather twine and beads that spell out their first name. During their treatment they add to the necklace by selecting beads that symbolize their treatment, surgeries, diagnostic procedures and blood work, a journal is also provided. This offers children with a unique way to share their story with family and friends.
Chemotherapy and radiation used to treat the child very often cause cognitive learning difficulties. In an effort to ensure that these children have the same opportunities as their peers this program works with parents and children to determine if the child is experiencing learning difficulties due to the late effects of treatment and if so create a plan for support. We also work with the schools to ensure they are aware of the child’s needs and to work with the families to help them learn to cope with these challenges. We are pleased to share that the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation provides us with a significant annual grant in support of this vital program. The CIBC Children’s Foundation also supports the BrainWorks program.
Camp Beat It (Family Camp)
Held each September long weekend at Camp He Ho Ha, this four-day weekend provides an indoor camping experience for families who are at various stages of the disease and survivorship. Activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, mini golf, climbing wall, family dances, and ropes course provides families with an opportunity to reach out to others and promote interaction and acceptance. At the end of the weekend many of the families leave the camp with a sense that they are not alone in the fight against childhood cancer. It also provides newly diagnosed families with a feeling of hope as they see children who have survived the disease.
The KWCS provides funding for all Northern Alberta children with cancer, and their siblings to attend Camp Kindle. This weeklong program, delivered by the Kids Cancer Care Foundation, is open for children aged 6 to 17 over the summer.
Cancer in the Classroom
This program offers a classroom visit by a Child Life Specialist. Classmates are able to receive accurate information about cancer and its treatment. It allows peers to talk openly and discuss ways to help support the child.
Family members enjoy an afternoon of rides at West Edmonton Mall Galaxyland followed by lunch, entertainment and visit from the Edmonton Eskimos and Santa at the Fantasyland Hotel Ballroom. Attended by over 500 people, this is one our most popular and fun activities.
If you are a dad or granddad who finds himself looking after the varying needs of a child with cancer—this program is designed specially for you. The Dad’s Group celebrates and supports this unique father-experience by providing a place to talk, share, relax, learn and connect with other dads. Monthly meetings are held at the KWCS house.
At diagnosis parents are provided with books and other materials that focus on their child’s specific disease. These materials, which are highly regarded internationally, are written in a way that all parents can understand. Resources such as a parent manual, roadmap, day timers and journals form an important part of this program.
The Family Conference is a time for families to gain valuable, relevant and timely information about the different stages of childhood cancer treatment: diagnosis, treatment and post treatment. Families will have the opportunity to share their journey with one another. It is the goal of the KWCS to give families information, tools and resources too not only cope, but to thrive. Supervised children’s and teen’s activities are also included, providing a unique and fun experience for children with cancer and their sibling while parents and caregivers attend the information sessions. The Family Conference takes place in May every year.
Gifts of Courage
At the completion of each procedure, a small reward (such as a toy, book or game), is chosen by the child from the treasure chest. Although the gift cannot eliminate the anxiety felt by the child, it can have a soothing effect and help erase the memory of the treatment. This program is especially affective for the younger children.
Kids with Cancer Society House
Just steps away from the Hospital, the KWCS House offers a home-like environment for families to relax in, connect with other families, and access the many support programs offered by the Society. Made possible by the Dave Lede Family Charitable Foundation and the Alberta Lottery Foundation Major Community Facilities Program, the house is the first of its kind in Canada, is a non-residential support facility for families with children currently in treatment for childhood cancer, childhood cancer survivors and their families, and families who have lost a child to cancer.
Newly Diagnosed Support Program
A visit from specially trained parents is offered to each family at the time of their child’s diagnosis. They connect with the new families during the initial stages of hospitalization and provide a “support bag”. The bag contains practical and useful items that will assist the family in the days that lie ahead. Parents also explain ways that the KWCS can help during this very difficult time. The visitation generally takes place within the first few weeks of diagnosis.
Palliative and Bereavement Support
The care for child and family during the palliative journey requires the support of many people from the community. Support is provided to help families create coping skills: to face emotions that may feel overwhelming at times, to process difficult conversations, and to create plans with how to function with the demands of everyday life while balancing enjoying each family moment and carrying a heavy heart. This support continues once the family is bereaved. The intent of the support is to walk along beside a bereaved family on their grief journey, so that hopefully they do not feel abandoned and isolated.
Illness and hospitalization often robs the child of participating in activities that we all take for take for granted. In December the KWCS House is transformed into Santa’s workshop as children secretly select gifts for their siblings and parents. While children shop, parents select a variety of baked goods.
Sibling Support Group
All family members feel the impact when cancer touches their lives. Siblings are often referred to as the “forgotten children” during diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Their needs are often overlooked. Workshops, offered 6 – 7 times a year, focus on helping siblings cope with the changes brought about by their brother or sister’s illness. Each session includes group and individual activities that help them explore what it is like to have a sibling with cancer and how to deal with it better.
Held at the KWCS House celebrations such as Easter and Halloween parties provide children with an opportunity to enjoy activities in a safe and healthy environment.
Monthly support meetings and activities are available that connect teens in order to share and learn from common experiences. The program is offered to both the teen affected by cancer and their siblings.
Time To Remember
Each year bereaved families are provided with an opportunity to remember their child in a safe and supportive environment. The annual event is a celebration of their child’s life and a reminder that the child has not been forgotten.
Childhood cancer treatment is a difficult and emotionally draining experience, which can often last for more than 2.5 years. For many families the journey has taken its toll on their ability to live a normal life. When treatment ends, although a joyous occasion, families often feel that the security blanket that has been woven for them is abruptly removed, leaving them with a feeling of vulnerability. In recognition of the need to assist families with re-entering a life of normality, a program is available to provide information on how to adapt to the positive new changes in their lives.
Walking with Grief
Parents are invited to gather on the third Wednesday of each month at the KWCS House. Regardless of where you are at in your grief journey join us to discuss how to find strength and develop coping skills while grieving the loss of your child. Our hope is to create a community where everyone feels comfortable sharing, listening, and walking the journey of grief together. For more information, please contact Karen at KarenK@kidswithcancer.ca
Weekly Inpatient Support Program
Supported by the Shariff Family and Boston Pizza, this program provides families on the Oncology Unit (4E3) with a pizza supper Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Parent volunteers, who have experienced a cancer diagnosis, facilitate the gatherings and are available to answer questions and provide informal support. This is a valuable opportunity for families to take a short break and meet with others in similar situations.