Eight-year-old Sierra is as comfortable scrambling on the soccer field as she is riding a big horse around a practice ring. This blue-eyed athlete doesn’t let Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma (a rare childhood brain tumor) slow her down.
But she’s not just sporty; this gregarious girl has a creative side, one that shines when she’s hanging out in treatment with her Chemo Pal mentor, Nathalie. Sierra and Nathalie spend hours doing all kinds of crafts – lots of necklaces and bracelets – and painting and drawing. And, they laugh a lot.
Sierra’s mom, Amy, says, “From the moment Nathalie walked in with her bag of fun, she and Sierra were fast friends. She brought energy and companionship and gave Sierra something to look forward to when going in for doctor appointments and treatments. As a parent, it’s difficult to navigate appointments – having challenging conversations with doctors while doing your best to distract your child.
Their friendship gave me a chance to focus on conversations with doctors and relax knowing that Sierra was enjoying her time instead of dreading it."
Sierra is one of the 250 Pacific Northwest children and teens CCA’s Chemo Pal® Mentor Program has brought the joy of friendship in the past year. Trained Chemo Pal mentors have devoted 6,730 hours forging and strengthening friendships and family bonds, bringing diversion, fun, and activities to kids during their treatment. Chemo Pal mentors also give parents a much-needed break to grab a cup of coffee, talk with doctors, or spend time with their other children.
In 2013, Oregon Mentors awarded CCA’s Chemo Pal Mentor Program with their most prestigious award for mentoring excellence, recognizing the program for exceeding standards of excellence and quality.
With your support, we can match even more seriously ill children and teens with compassionate adults who offer supportive relationships throughout treatments.