6 Organizations Helping Families Deal With Serious Medical Issues
Serious medical issues, from mental illness to sickle cell disease to cancer, can upend the lives of entire families. It can be difficult for children to wrap their minds around concepts like chronic disease and loss and parents can struggle to juggle their own emotions with the extra support their kids need. Luckily, organizations like the ones listed here work to offer families helpful support, train and educate those looking for more information, and fund research that may lead to new treatments and cures. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.
Groups That Support & Empower Families Affected By Medical Issues
|Wonders & Worries||Provide free, professional support for children and teenagers through a parent’s serious illness|
|Kids & Art Foundation||Improve the quality of pediatric cancer care by focusing on the whole child in treatment by including healing through arts in their protocol|
|Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta||Help young people affected by cancer and their families survive and thrive in body, mind, and spirit|
|Faith Connections on Mental Illness||Work with all local faith communities to advocate for and to support and educate individuals and families who are living with mental illness|
|Camp Sunshine||Provide retreats combining respite, recreation, and support while enabling hope and promoting joy for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child’s illness|
|Runway to Hope||Support families, primarily in Central Florida, fighting pediatric cancer, while seeking a cure|
Types Of Cancer In Children
According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute cancer death rates for children from birth to 14 years old have declined by 65 percent from 1970 to 2016. However, cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease among children. The most common types of cancer diagnosed in children ages 0 to 14 years are leukemias, brain and other central nervous system (CNS) tumors, and lymphomas. The types of treatment that a child with cancer receives will depend on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Common treatments include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant.
U.S. Mental Health Facts
- 1 in 5 U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year
- 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
- The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years
- People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population
- 19.3% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2018
- The rate of unemployment is higher among U.S. adults who have mental illness (5.8%) compared to those who do not (3.6%)
- 41% of the people with mental disorders receive professional health care or other services
- Mental illness is associated with lower use of medical care, reduced adherence to treatment therapies for chronic diseases and higher risks of adverse health outcomes
- Up to 25% of primary care patients suffer from depression, but primary care doctors identify only 31% of these patients
- 4% of young adults reported forgoing mental health care in the past year, despite self-reported mental health needs
- Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44
- Women are nearly twice as likely to suffer from major depression than men
- Four times as many men than women commit suicide
- Suicidal ideation among adults increased from 3.77% in 2012 to 4.19% in 2017
- The proportion of youth with private insurance that did not cover mental or emotional difficulties went from 4.6% in 2012 to 8.1% in 2017
- 8.4% of children aged 6 to 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression
Stories From A Home For Terminally Ill Children
Phases of Medical Research
- Basic medical research: Establishes an understanding of the issue and its effects on humans
- Preclinical research: Figures out how best to test an experimental treatment or cure
- Clinical research: Research is done on real people, under the supervision of physicians in a medical setting
Movies That Can Help Kids Understand Grief
Having a parent or other family member with a terminal illness can be difficult for children to understand, and grief can hit kids hard. If you have little ones having trouble wrapping their minds around the concept of loss, it can be helpful to show them movies made for young people that tackle the subject in thoughtful ways. Here are a few examples:
|Title||Year||Target Audience Age|
|Finding Nemo||2003||4 & up|
|Up||2009||4 & up|
|Fly Away Home||1996||8-12|
|Onward||2020||8 & up|
|Hugo||2011||12 & up|
6 Common Misconceptions About Cancer
For those battling severe medical conditions, the devastating toll that falls on their loved ones can offer an additional source of distress. Many caring organizations offer support to families struggling with health challenges, providing funds, education, and activities that reinforce emotional resilience. Listed in no particular order, here are several groups offering assistance to families impacted by chronic or life-threatening afflictions.
Opening this overview at #1 is Wonders & Worries, which extends free psychological and emotional support to children whose parents are experiencing severe illness. The organization provides both individual and group sessions, organizing activities to help kids come to terms with the realities of serious health problems. Programs like the annual Teddy Bear Clinic, or lessons on wellness and sickness, help to reduce anxiety around medical issues.
Wonders & Worries offers parenting support programs, with lessons on discussing medical problems with children, activity suggestions, and book recommendations. The group provides options for professionals working with young people, including continuing education opportunities, and a Registered Provider Program that offers administrative support and access to the organization's curriculum. Wonders & Worries also hosts family fun events, and shares informational materials on helping children manage fear and stress.
Wonders & Worries also hosts family fun events, and shares informational materials on helping children manage fear and stress.
Next up at #2 is the Kids & Art Foundation, a program offering outlets for creative expression to young people suffering from pediatric cancer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in memory of leukemia victim and art enthusiast Amaey Shah, this group holds free workshops for children and families battling cancer, led by talented creators who help participants find strength in self-expression.
K&A organizes Destination Workshops that invite children and caregivers to venues including art galleries, museums, and tech company headquarters. These outings offer a combination of education and artistic exploration, with instruction from creative professionals in unique settings. The organization shares information about the therapeutic benefits of art, as well as recognizing inspiring volunteers and sharing informative articles about the program.
Our #3 is Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta, providing a broad range of support services for those impacted by childhood cancer. The organization offers free camp programs creating an outdoor adventure experience for young people battling disease, as well as recreational activities for the whole family. Its Camp Kindle program extends a similar range of activities to kids dealing with a parent's illness.
Its Camp Kindle program extends a similar range of activities to kids dealing with a parent's illness.
Kids Cancer Care creates family outreach programs like PEER, which provides physical education to build wellness and confidence, or the service learning opportunities of the Teen Leadership Program. The Foundation offers assistance for those in hospital care, as well as funding numerous grants to support research into a cure. The group also provides education support, including tutoring and scholarships for affected individuals.
#4 on the list is Faith Connections on Mental Illness, working to remove the stigma around psychological disorders in cooperation with local religious communities. The group hosts regular events gathering members from congregations throughout North Carolina's Research Triangle region, for educational presentations and discussions on the ways that faith organizations can support those suffering from psychological conditions.
FCMI provides resources for religious groups seeking to offer welcoming communities for people with mental illness, sharing tools designed for suicide prevention or building understanding within congregations. The group organizes teams for the yearly NAMIWalks fundraising event, and its annual Hope & Healing Conference features talks from experts on how faith leaders can help the mentally ill.
FCMI provides resources for religious groups seeking to offer welcoming communities for people with mental illness, sharing tools designed for suicide prevention or building understanding within congregations.
At #5 we have Camp Sunshine, which offers year-round retreat programs for families impacted by childhood illness. Attendees take part in recreational activities to promote well-being, provide emotional support, and strengthen family relationships. The offerings at Camp Sunshine include arts and crafts, outdoor adventure, board games, and seasonal activities like toasting smores.
Camp Sunshine hosts sessions for those grappling with a variety of conditions, including sickle cell disease, bone marrow disorders, and several forms of pediatric cancer. The organization also provides a program for Spanish speakers, and a session for families processing bereavement. Camp Sunshine offers an internship program and volunteer opportunities for those interested in acquiring service experience, and shares testimonials from past attendees.
Concluding our list at #6 is Runway to Hope, an organization which provides financial assistance and emotional support to families affected by pediatric cancer. The group's Family Assistance Program helps to cover the many costs that emerge in the wake of a cancer diagnosis, raising funds and awareness through events that highlight the courage of the children fighting these diseases.
The group's Family Assistance Program helps to cover the many costs that emerge in the wake of a cancer diagnosis, raising funds and awareness through events that highlight the courage of the children fighting these diseases.
The signature event from Runway to Hope is its annual Spring Soiree, a combined fundraising gala and fashion show which celebrates the resilience of children affected by cancer, offering them a chance to feel glamorous and confident while meeting celebrities or beloved characters. Other events include the Sparkle & Shine 5k, a glitter-decked foot race to drive donations, and the Fashion Brunch and Boutique Stroll.