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A Visit to Boston Children's Hospital

The month of September plays a major role when it comes to spreading awareness about Childhood Cancer. Many of you joined in on our journey with Megan Bugg - a story that continues to give us all HOPE when fighting for a cure, together. 

Ms. Bugg's biggest goal is to fight for children alike and utilize her voice to make a difference. With that in mind and much thanks to her morale, we have been inspired to learn more for all children and families and share as we go along. Recently, we had the amazing opportunity to talk with Boston Children's Hospital, more specifically a few Child Life Specialists (CLS). 

As stated in their History Trail, "Since its founding in 1869, Boston Children's Hospital has been at the leading edge of patient care, medical research and teaching." Our Q&A below gives insight into the work they do and true meaning behind positive impact [these questions were answered by a few different CLS team members].

 

Q: How do your patients inspire you?
A: The patients inspire me to be strong and positive and to always look for the good in each day.
A: It is an honor and a privilege to serve our patients and families. Our patients and families are amazing and their demonstration of courage, incredible strength, positive attitudes and resilient spirits inspires us every day.
A: Regardless of how sick they are and what they are going through, I always see a kid being a kid! They are playful, engaging and lively
Q: What is something special that you do to help your patients cope?
A: Play!!! Kids are kids, no matter what they have been diagnosed with. I love to play with the patients and bring that sense of normalcy and joy back into their day.
A: As a child life specialist there are many special ways we help patients and families to cope. We use medical play and preparation to prepare patients and demonstrate coping techniques. We use assorted visuals (Ipads, light up toys, I Spy Books), breathing techniques(bubbles and pinwheels), comfort measures and diversional talk. The most important is being present, letting patients know we care and are there to support them through the experience. Sometimes holding a hand, giving a hug and making someone smile or laugh goes a long way!
A: Celebrate each milestone and moment! Whether it is celebrating first steps, holidays, birthdays, engraftment day and/or any other special occasion. We always look for things to celebrate and lets kids be kids! I try to normalize the hospital environment as much as possible.
Q: What inspired you to work with children?
A: I have always loved working with children, but I wanted to make a difference for kids when their whole world has been turned upside down. It’s incredibly rewarding to play even a small part of their journeys.  
A: Children have a joyful and playful spirit, and a positive "Can do" attitude that is contagious!  They have an openness to learn, a magical imagination,  and a natural acceptance of others which makes them so special to be around. We can learn so much from them!
A: I always knew I wanted to work with kids. I babysat growing up and have always loved children's energy, honesty and playfulness.
Q: The leader of a elephant family is called the Matriarch. She leads with wisdom;strength;extraordinary skills in problem solving;social intelligence;openness;decisiveness;patience;confidence and compassion. Which of these characteristics do you identify with and why.
A: I identify with compassion and patience; both qualities that are crucial when working with kids! To be in this role, you have to be compassionate to what the kids and their families are going through. You are being invited into a very vulnerable time in their lives and they need that extra support and listening ear. Patience is important when working with hospitalized kids because their whole world just changed. You have to be patient and give them time to adjust to their new “normal.” A big part of child life is helping them cope with these changes on their own time.
A: I believe to be a successful child life specialist we need to possess all of the Matriarch 's qualities to help patients and families cope effectively and feel empowered. At the core, being compassionate, empathetic  and open to all of the patients and families is the most important, and is what I identify with the most.  I strive to treat all patients and families the way I would want to be treated when facing a diagnosis such as cancer.

A: I identify with strength, patience and compassion. All of these skills are needed when working with children, especially hospitalized children. Children connect with people who are compassionate and patient. You need to be strong to support your patients and families, but as well as yourself.
 
Q: Characteristics of a elephant are loyalty; strength; lifelong family bond; compassion and empathy. Which of these do you see in your patients and why.
A: Empathy is a huge characteristic that I see in the patients. Although they are going through the unimaginable themselves, it is remarkable to see how quickly and naturally they empathize with the other patients on the floor. They are the first to cheer each other up or lend a helping hand. Strength is also a big theme on the floor. Even the tiniest babies and the sickest teens are strong and resilient and always keep fighting. I admire how naturally these qualities appear in children, despite how many roadblocks they might have been presented.
A: An elephant's characteristics such as loyalty; strength; lifelong family bond; compassion and empathy are characteristics I see and admire in our patients and families every day. Their love and dedication to each other and fellow patients and families that they meet on their health care journey is awe-inspiring. I am always moved when I see a patient or family reach out to another person in need, despite the fact that they are facing similar obstacles or challenges themselves.  Their loyalty and compassion for others is unwavering. Their strength is so powerful, just like an elephant's!
A: I see all of these characteristics in my patients. The one that I see most frequently is strength. My patients are going through a bone marrow transplant and their strength never ceases to amaze me. Children are extremely resilient.


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