"Mommy and Me" Program Bonds Moms With Children Who Battle Cancer
Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 09:12 PM EDT
Each week a unique group of toddlers gather in Towson to play together. The children are drawn together by a common bond that can have life and death consequence.
It’s a Tuesday morning ritual for many moms. Children start to arrive for the “Mommy and Me” program. It is a small class for a big reason.
Athena’s short life so far has been filled with long hospital visits because she has acute lymphoma leukemia. Cora, Athena’s mom, recalls, “Everybody’s story is different. Every sickness is different.” She as has a bone marrow transplant because she has aplasta anemia, a bone marrow failure.
Kids, who have faced death, are now trying to live life. Jessica, Mia’s mom, speaks about her daughter’s diagnosis of leukemia. She speaks about the diagnosis as her own, as well as her daughter’s, saying, “We were diagnosed with leukemia.”
They are at different stages in their battles with cancer. They have weakened immune systems, and need to be vigilant about sating as “germ free” as possible. But as toddlers, they have their own goal: just to have fun.
Jessica says, “It’s a great group. To get together with other people in the same situation who understand, and you get out of the house and have a distraction for a little bit.”
The playgroup volunteers are fueled by their own experiences. One teacher volunteers because she lost a cousin to cancer. It’s that close brush for the very small that is a reality here; Patti Black, a teacher says, “It does bring tears to my eyes.” She cannot fathom how the parents keep their children safe from germs and the environment.
But for some this may be the only time they can socialize between medical appointments and recovering. To an outside observer it’s just a "Mommy and Me" class, but for these parents this is laughter often not heard, and it is a brief respite from the daily dose of drugs in a quest to make a few moments in a child’s life, simply, happy.
One mom recalls, “Her soul has changed because of what she has been through.”