At the end of a work day, like many teachers, I am emotionally exhausted. Students come to my door in tears filled with worry about family members battling cancer, failed chemistry tests, and the big bully in the lunchroom. Weary from my own my health battles, I often wonder how I will find the energy to keep giving. Then I receive a surprise call from my daughter in Minneapolis, a pediatrician, who recounts her work week at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.
What could be more discouraging than children battling an evil disease that destroys their dreams? Rich, poor, black, white, Muslim, Jew, cancer does not discriminate. No one grows up on easy street anymore.
When U of M Amplatz Children’s Hospital opened in 2011, it was designed to help kids heal as painlessly as possible by offering patient and family centered care. Staff wear colorful – orange, magenta, turquoise – scrubs and the bright, customized private rooms are spacious enough to allow families to stay to help the healing process.
The positive energy of the place can be seen in nurses of Unit 5, who took time before and after hours to shoot a video with nearly 70 staff members dancing to « Brave » by Sara Bareilles, as a way of encouraging their patients.
“We know these kids, know their stories and what they’ve been through,” the nurses say, “but for other people to see how amazing they are and to be affected in the same way just means so much to them, and we hope it continues to inspire other kids.”
Their little video went viral with over 300,000 viewers. Our daughter abhors the limelight, so she ducked during the filming, but she jumped right on the band wagon promoting it.
When Nathalie’s aunt asked for ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts, Nat suggested that in lieu of gifts, we could make donations to Toys-for-Tots , or to Make a Wish, which grants wishes for kids with cancer and other life threatening illnesses.
“A lot of the kids I take care of have had wishes granted by Make-a-Wish, which is a big deal for them and their families,” Nat says.
To the doctors, nurses, families, and children at Amplatz and elsewhere fighting in the face of a despairing disease, as we say in France, « Bon Courage ! »
To my dear daughter, Happy Birthday! May you find the strength to do what you do best : easing children’s pain, calming distraught parents, and encouraging co workers. .
To the rest of us who think we are weary from our job raising children, think again. We share a privileged role. Whether we are helping kids string together words one syllable at time or battle disease cell by cell, like the Amplatz’s staff implore each of us – teachers, coaches, counselors, parents and grandparents – take time to hug a kid today.
« Be courageous, be brave, be strong
Stay fighting, stay positive, stay courageous
Support the fighters, admire the survivors, honor the taken
Never ever give up hope»
Children are priceless. Each day is a gift. Kindness costs nothing. Positivity perpetuates. Hope prevails.