Sure, adults need to know what’s going on with their cancer treatment but so do their family members, right down to the little guys. That’s why Karen Saban and team members at Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute started the Learning Through Love program. It’s aimed at the children of cancer patients to demystify the cancer treatment experience and help them gain a better understanding of what to expect.
“We take children through the areas that a patient would see,” says Saban, co-ordinator of the program. Tour groups start at psychosocial services and move to the volunteer information centre. Next they visit the day care unit, learning all the reasons why their family member might visit, such as to receive chemotherapy, hydration or other therapy. “They get to see what an intravenous needle looks like, for example,” Saban says. “It’s very hands-on.” Volunteers from various parts of the cancer hospital come and speak to the kids to explain what they do.
The groups also heads to the radiation department to check out the equipment. “And later, in the lab, the kids get to look through microscopes, and we take them to the wig salon to try on wigs – they all like that.” Saban says groups of anywhere from four to 12 kids go through every six weeks during the school year. The tour is catered to the children’s ages and they have toured kids from about six to 17. The tour culminates in the sunroom with a surprise visit from a balloon twister.
To register your child for Learning Through Love or to find out more, call 780-643-4304.