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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hannah's Friends - Compassionate Support for Families with Critically-ill Children

Families around the world, regardless of culture, can relate to the emotions and difficulties that surround the potential loss of a child to a life-threatening illness.
Each year, more than 160,000 children die of cancer. Four in five are from low and middle income countries where childhood cancer is just one of many priorities. The treatment and care of children with these and other life-threatening childhood diseases requires a whole interdisciplinary team, to provide not just the medical treatment of the child, but also the psychosocial support for the child and the whole family. Community volunteers are an integral part of providing such care.
Impacts on Families What is not widely known or fully understood by the population-at-large are the broad and formidable challenges presented to a family that embarks on a journey to care for a child with life-limiting or life-threatening illness. The ongoing pilot program in Northern California, is rapidly illustrating that having someone with previous experience on such a journey to provide guidance and support can help these families immensely.
The Need for the Program In June 2006 PBS aired a documentary titled A LION IN THE HOUSE that illustrates very clearly the need for Hannah's Friends. The film follows the stories of five exceptional children and their families as they confront pediatric cancer. This film documents the stresses that can tear a family apart and also sheds light on growing up in the shadow of illness, as a patient and a sibling of a patient.