February 16, 2019
Jeannie Ann’s Grandma
Has Breast Cancer by Davies and Nobens took me today to Gloria Dei Lutheran
Church in St. Paul to attend the winter retreat of the Angel Foundation. Angel Foundation is a Twin Cities-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit
whose mission is to provide support to local adults with cancer and their
families. For more than fifteen years, their programs have helped families
facing cancer find more everyday moments of joy.
was evident today in the faces of the families attending as well as the
organizers and volunteers. What an
awesome way to spend a Saturday morning and part of the afternoon on a cold
winter day in February!
Winter Retreat is part of the Facing Cancer Together
program which gives parents and caregivers the tools they need to parent
through cancer. Kid-friendly activities provide education, emotional support
and social experiences for the entire family.
My part today was to share Jeannie Ann’s Grandma Has Breast Cancer with
the young children, preteens and teens. Kids
at whatever age are a resilient group able to grow, adjust, and deal with the
stuff life throws at them. Today’s group of twenty some kids all shared
the defining attribute that a loved one in their life was facing cancer. The love, understanding, respect and strength
that I experienced within this group was truly inspiring to me. The lessons that I learned today were many;
- As I began reading Jeannie Ann’s
story, a young boy about 6 raised his hand.
He wanted me to know that his mother had breast cancer like in the story.
He started out by saying, “My Mom has . . . “.
His head went down to the table and his older sister finished the
sentence for him. The youngest
participant was the first to respond leading the way for his cohorts. I was thrilled.
- After completing the story, I asked
the students to interact by drawing, writing, pantomime, comparing Jeannie Ann’s
story to their own story. A 6th
grade young man picked up a pencil and wrote totally undisturbed by anything
happening around him. He later shared
his Mom’s tribute. (I only share a
portion.) “My Mom and I joked and called it her baseball baby and we laughed
hard but in a week it wasn’t funny anymore.”
- “Hey wait, I didn’t get to share
mine yet!” “I want to share mine too.” Two members of the group were finishing up
when time ran out. The group just
automatically stopped moving and respectfully listened to the last two share
their responses. I was amazed!
- I’d ask a question of the older
group expecting to hear who in their family was dealing with cancer. The first young man told us his mother had
breast cancer and continued on to tell us about how he had to learn to be more patient
with her angry outbursts. Following suite,
one of the girls added that she began to appreciate the little things that
bring joy and happiness.
- A lovely young gal choose to sit with her back
to me as I read the story. She didn’t
want to share when the opportunity to do so came up. Yet she was the first to step up to have me sign
her copy of Jeannie Ann’s Grandma Has
All of this and more in two back to back half hour
sessions. It truly was an amazing
opportunity that I was honored to have come my way. Thank you Angel Foundation. I’m a fan of what you are doing for cancer
patients and their families.