Kids Embracing Hope
will take care of me when you die.” That’s the question Trish O’Neill’s son, Matt, asked when she told him and his brother, Dominic, that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. In so many ways, his question reflected the gamut of a child’s understanding of what being diagnosed with cancer means. By Matt’s age – 10 years old, at the time – he was aware that a diagnosis of cancer of some kind all too often carries with it a death sentence and if not that, then the battle against cancer certainly becomes a lifestyle.
Of course, Trish had no intention of surrendering to cancer and dying. Few people ever do. As much as anyone, Trish is a fighter, but one who has managed to maintain an amazing optimism and a mindfulness of the opportunities that even great adversity can bring into ones’ life.
She has instilled in her sons these same kinds of attitudes; particularly as they have been alongside her, offering her spiritual and emotional support when she’s needed it. Her brother John and his family along with their amazing mother Mary Jo, have been absolutely crucial to Trish’s journey. Their unconditional love and positive energy supported her every step of the way. Trish’s friends also provided a circle of strength, lending their energy, their faith and hope for a speedy full recovery.
Along the way, Trish noticed that there is a dizzying variety and depth to the support systems, groups and organizations available for patients being treated for cancer and for adult caregivers. However, there is a definite lack of attention given to supporting children and adolescents traveling this journey with their parents, siblings and loved ones. Embracing this as an opportunity instead of an obstacle, Trish called on her boys to act on developing a program for them to address other kids who share this same journey. It became obvious to Trish’s boys that no one can talk to a child or teen in this situation, like peers who have gone through the same experience.
Trish has started a non-profit called ‘Kids Embracing Hope’, which will connect children and caregivers with parents fighting cancer to peers who are further along in their journey. The mission is to educate kids and others about cancer and provide communication tools to assist them in caring for their loved one. The vision is that Kid’s Embracing Hope will be contagious and an unstoppable force of nature in our community and spread to other communities. Kid’s Embracing Hope will facilitate peer support groups, advocacy, material resources, and support services for professional counseling. Through these interactive activities and community outreach, Kid’s Embracing Hope will be instrumental in your community.
Everyone is effected by cancer and cancer does not discriminate. As we inspire and support one kid, one family, one caregiver, with hope to embrace this journey from a new perspective, they too will see the gifts cancer can bring to one’s life…. Trish has embraced cancer as a gift. Her tenacity and determination to never give up, is probably why Trish’s boys are often asked why Trish looks the way she does, if she is fighting cancer. Her boys have learned to respond back with the question, “What does cancer look like?” It’s all about your ATTITUDE.
You can help Kids Embracing Hope by purchasing one of our t-shirts to help raise awareness of our cause.