Teen with a Dream™ is a 501 (c) (3) charity founded specifically to enrich the lives of pediatric cancer patients and the lives of their families by combating the effects of social isolation and loneliness during chemotherapy through specialized social, educational, and financial programs.
Follow our blogs for daily tips, advice, tricks, stories, and information that will help you on your cancer journey!
As this is the last day of February, we want to spend today sharing a little about what we plan to focus on this upcoming month.
Over the past two months we have strived to build a foundation of self-exploration, cleansing and healing.
January: Self-Cleansing and Detox
February: Growing and maintaining the healing process.
This March, we will focus on the following concepts:
Embracing the Silver Lining
Exploring healthy perspectives on a multitude of topics
Taking control of your own fate
Fulfilling your destiny
These concepts are the ideal follow-up steps to having a healthy emotional, physical and spiritual lifestyle. We hope that through our post we are able to provide you with realistic steps to accomplishing all of your goals during a chaotic time period.
It has been 2 years now since we first introduced our compassion project which is a way of using one of Teen with a Dream’s signature programs in combination to the public to show compassion to children with cancer. We have filled over 500 bags in 2 years which is amazing!
Today’s post is about one of those amazing groups that chose to be compassionate and help children with cancer. Mrs Faulkner’s class at Charles Hay World Elementary school started helping Teen with a Dream because one student wanted to have a bake sale and donate the proceeds to a charity that help kids. Lucky for us she selected us and we couldn’t be more happy and amazed at everyones kindness.
On top of the fundraiser the school also did a Rainbow Loom drive to make bracelets for us to put in our Chemo Day Care Bags. And why Rainbow Loom you might ask? Because they knew that Rainbow Looms can be washed and sanitized for kids going through treatment- and lastly they are doing a 45 person compassion project! We are so excited-thank you Charles Hay World School!
This month we have focused maintaining, building, and growing during chemotherapy to help you and your child through this hard time. Today’s post brings you some ideas and tips of how friends can help you maintain or grow during your treatment and beyond. Your friends, and family friends aren’t just a lifeline to help you get through treatment, but they can also help with the organizing.
Tip 1: Take a friend with you to all appointments and have them write things down for you, with what feels like a thousands different things coming at you this can be most helpful. Firstly they aren’t in the thick of having to live through treatment so they may be able to listen better then yourself and hear things that you wouldn’t
Tip 2: Let a friend help you with a schedule or deadlines for things like, appointments, important dates, and goals then ask for their help in keeping them. They can be a helpful reminder or a swift kick in the rear to get you motivated.
Tip 3: Declutter, this is most helpful and a pain to do, so have a friend help you. Weather you have to declutter a cabinet to fit all your medication in or you are making your room a more screen space friends can help. They aren’t married to anything you have so they can sort through it more quickly.
Tip 4: and the most important one of all is just to allow your friends to be your friend!
The thought of chemotherapy alone is an extremely overwhelming thought in and of itself. When beginning your treatment, or even if you are in the mist of it-be very cautious about your routine.
Why should you be cautious of this? Because you often associate that activity, item or even person with the sickness that you feel and you can form an aversion to these things.
By ensuring to take a few simple steps to avoid aversions, has the potential to lessen additional emotional hardships down the road.
Here are a few things that Teen with a Dream would suggest to avoid aversions:
Take only bland food or snacks. Chemotherapy inevitably results in high levels of nausea therefore, not risk bringing your favorite comfort food on treatment days. Additionally, those eating around you while you are undergoing treatment could also effect you.
Ask those accompanying you on treatment days to wear fragrance-free perfume or beauty products. Chemotherapy heightens your senses, creating an hypersensitive effect on your body. Excessive fragrances can cause you headaches, nausea, etc.
Be cautious of engaging in your favorite activities. This could be as simple as watching your favorite movie. It is important to realize that you may eventually associate this movie with your treatment days and you may not end up loving it after you have finished treatment
For today’s Sunday Nutrition post, we want to focus on “super-foods”. As you know, this month we want to share information about growth-what better way to fuel growth than with these healthy super-foods?
Blueberries. You can see the “super” of these sweet fruits within their color. That deep-blue hue is a by-product of flavonoids — natural compounds that protect the brain’s memory-carrying cells (neurons) from the damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation.
Sardines. Although you may find this salty snack to be intimidating in taste, Sardines are filled with a plethora of Omega-3 which helps our hearts! Just one ounce of sardines has just as much omega as an entire salmon!
Spinach. Spinach is filled with antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin — a duo that acts like sunscreen for your eyes and guards against macular degeneration.
Dark Chocolate. Although you may have controlled your chocolate portions, dark chocolate contains healthy benefits! This tasty sweet is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and boost overall heart health. Choose chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao or cocoa to optimize the antioxidant power and health benefits.
Red Bell Peppers. One red bell pepper has twice as much vitamin C as an orange. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps clear your body of free radicals and keeps your skin and blood vessels healthy and strong. The vitamin C in bell peppers may also help prevent arthritis or slow the progression of the disease. Red bell peppers also deliver beta-carotene and lycopene, two more antioxidants that have been associated with decreased risk of eye diseases like cataracts. Additionally bell peppers have a high water content and provide you with a snack that keeps on giving!
Egg Whites. Egg whites can help you maintain strong bones, muscles, nails, and hair.
Pumpkin. Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients that will help your heart, bones, eyes, and skin. Beta-carotene and potassium are the two standouts here: Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps rejuvenate skin, protect your vision, and may even reduce risk of arthritis. Potassium is a mineral involved in lowering blood pressure and maintaining healthy bones. Use fresh or canned (no-sugar-added) pumpkin in stews, soups, pies, or pureed as a side dish — or add a scoop to some nonfat vanilla yogurt for a yummy snack.
Happy Saturday Dream Team! Today we want to feature a few tactics to incorporate within your daily life that will ultimately help you grow emotionally, physically and spiritually.
When reading through this article we found that these tips can cater perfectly to help pediatric cancer patients as well! So lets begin…
Challenge your mind with a difficult puzzle, brain game, or riddle to start off your day! Teen with a Dream ensures that each Chemo Day Care bag includes a “logical” type game, toy, or activity book. Chemo can be hard on a child’s memory, so it is important to engage + stimulate critical thinking skills through out their treatment.
Try these brain games from our previous post here!
Challenge yourself to completing a task that has been lingering or teach yourself something you have always wanted to learn.
Exercise. Now, this can sound a bit intimidating when you are going through treatment, as it can be very draining to the body-but try simple little work outs that will stimulate muscle use. Always consult your doctor before hand!
Overcome negativity. Smile when you are overwhelmed with negativity or negative thoughts. Replace the negatives with things that make you happy.
Did you try our Self Embrace/Healing SPLURGE! Friday craft? If so pull out your positive words. If not-this would be a great way to detour from negativity! Find it HERE!
Begin the day by making a goal of something you can do for someone else. There is no joy like the happiness that comes from giving.
End your day by writing down the things you were thankful for through out. It can be easy to forget these things so when you make an effort to physically put them down on paper, they become quite clear to see!
Happy SPLURGE! Friday! We are preparing for a huge winter storm here at Teen with a Dream headquarters and thought this SPLURGE! friday would be perfect to SPLURGE! on a fuzzy friend from JellyCat to cuddle up with this weekend!
JellyCat has been a long time Dream Team Member and continuous donor for our Evening of Dreams! You have most likely already seen one of their friends featured in our previous post, Mr. Bear!
So today, take a moment to choose your perfect fuzzy + unbelievably soft friend to take with you to the hospital on treatment days!
There are numerous of things you will have to juggle following a cancer diagnosis-it can be profoundly overwhelming. It is common for us to fall into taking it out on the ones who love us most. When you are a child it can be even more difficult to cope in a healthy manner and can affect their siblings.
Here are a few tips to maintaining a healthy relationship with siblings during treatment:
Getting Along. Being a care giver can cause opportunities for arguments-whether it is about scheduling or what you think is best. Make sure to discuss, plan and enact in what you and your family have decided see fit.
Hold Family Meetings. By designating a set time and place where you and your family will discuss everyone’s schedule will help eliminate miscommunications. Additionally by including siblings will ensure that they don’t feel left in the dark, that their schedules, extra circulars are still important regardless of this new chaos.
Healthy Communication. Make sure to engage in productive conversations and decisions. It can be easy to argue over simple things and create unnecessary tension between family members.
Embrace Flexibility. Cancer is an extremely unpredictable thing. Make sure you have discussed with your family that flexibility is key to getting through this chaotic time
Dedicate time to each sibling. By making an effort to dedicate time to each sibling will eliminate sibling’s “lost in translation” feeling. As you know, treatment can dictate so many aspects of your life-particularly your schedule. This can make siblings feel less important [regardless of reality]. Whether it is taking 15 min to sit and engage in their favorite activity or spending a day of their choosing-will help maintain a healthy relationship!
Today, we are sharing Sravan’s follow up post from last Monday’s blog about technology-enjoy!!
Think of its practicality and engage yourself in learning opportunities that directly relate to your or your loved ones particular challenges and responsibilities.
When you base it on real-life, role-based scenarios it immediately captures your attention and interest. Remember it is easy to be overwhelmed with information overload that can be accessed 24/7, you don’t have to know it all, Just find information that is going to help you most in your situation.
So what does the future hold for us?
Smart clothes - If a wristband or clip-on tracker isn’t part of your look, there’s hope for you in 2015, because a new wave of wearable smart garments will be hitting the stores soon.
Bands - With more built into them. A band that keep better tabs on what you’re eating.it will be able to track automatically both the calories you eat and the quality of the food you are eating.
Virtual house calls - This next trend is all about bringing the doctor to you.
Health rewards - an online health incentive program that companies can use to reward employees for improving their health.
Technology has changed health care and is giving it a much needed upgrade and this seems to be only the beginning. Newer fields in medicine promise to alter the effectiveness of health care and as long as it is integrated well the risks are reduced.
It is becoming very clear that the future of medicine is entering a new era and is looking bright.
As we wrote last Sunday, you may be on a low fiber diet in order to combat chemo’s yucky tummy troubling side effect. Today we want to share two great options to cater to your low-fiber diet!
Option No. 1: Savory Bread Pudding
oil/butter or oil spray, for greasing your dish
4 medium eggs, beaten
1 x 400g (14 oz) tin/carton cream of tomato soup OR pouch of tomato soup (check that it is less than 1.5 grams of fibre per serving) – Tesco has a nice tomato and marscapone one, as does Sainsburys (both are UK stores)
¼ to ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)
200 ml (4/5 cup)) milk
50 ml (scant ¼ cup)crème fraiche/sour cream (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
50 g (scant ¼ cup) cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt, to taste
Spray or paint a one litre baking dish (approximately 27×18) with a little oil. Preheat the oven to 180C. Pop the bread cubes into the oiled baking dish and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the milk, crème fraiche, soup, garlic powder and the eggs. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes.
Gently press the mixture into the bread and allow to soak up for about five minutes (or don’t press it and leave, covered, overnight in the refrigerator).
Sprinkle over the cheese and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving warm with a a very small bowl of lettuce leaves. Need more calories? Use full-fat dairy. Serves 2.
Option No. 2: MISO-GLAZED FISH
2 x 150-175g (5-6 oz) firm, white fish (skinned), washed and patted dry
2 tbsp white/blonde or yellow miso
1 ½ tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp mirin, dry sherry or fresh lime juice
Mix together the glaze ingredients until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
Brush most of the glaze on both sides of the fish and leave to marinate for half an hour.
Preheat your grill/broiler and place the fish on a baking tray, then pop under the heat until the tops are starting to brown and the glaze caramelizes – watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn – about three minutes.
Take the fish from the grill/broiler, brush with the remaining glaze. Now either turn the heat to 180C/375C, or lightly cover the fish with foil (not touching the fish) and put on a lower rack, and cook until the fish is cooked through but still moist – about five minutes
Remove from the oven and spread over the miso glaze; place under a hot grill/broiler until bubbly.
Today we are featuring Miriam, an original Dream Team Member and certified therapist who has been by our side the past 12 years. We are so excited to share Miriam’s first feature post, enjoy!
Young children who have a diagnosis of cancer or other serious conditions experience a great deal of stress in their lives. One of the ways to help them deal with stress is to teach them how breathing can help them feel more calm.
A good way to start is to teach your child how to belly breathe (also known as abdominal breathing). There is a Sesame Street video on YouTube that sings a song about the calming effects of belly breathing.
Another good way to teach a child as young as three years old is when they are laying down ready for bed. Have them put a small stuffed animal on their abdomen. Ask them to breath in and watch the animal rise and fall with each breath in and out. (Gremlin Taming Institute). With practice they can use this technique during medical procedures or other stressful times.
There is a helpful ebook by Zamirha called Deep Breathing for Kids that offers ideas for teaching calming breathing. One technique (paraphrased) is to have the child imagine they are a teapot "how big are you? What color are you? Can you feel the lid on your head? Sit up straight so the lid doesn’t fall off! Take a slow easy breath in. As you breath out make your steam making a ssssssssss sound.. Breath out slow and steady and see how long you can make the steam go.
A great way of teaching our children how to breath is through modeling. While teaching we may even feel more calm ourselves.
As we have shared numerous times through out various blogposts, Teen with a Dream whole-heartedly believes in the benefits of therapeutic art and pediatric cancer patients.
Today we have found a wonderful craft that embodies both therapeutic characteristics and self-esteem boosting qualities all in one! This Valentines Day, create your very own “Love Tubes”.
Here is what you will need:
One Tube [paper towel, toilet paper, candy containers etc.]
Card Stock Cut into Strips
Themed Décor of your choosing
Decorate your tube to reflect your self and your taste.
On each strip of cardstock write adjectives that you love about yourself. They could even be adjectives you strive to be.
Place all strips into your tube.
In moments of high stress, pull out a strip from your tube to boost your esteem and mood! This would also be the perfect gift for loved ones-write down all of the things you love most about that person.
There are a multitude of everyday tasks that have the potential to dramatically change following a cancer diagnosis-one being education. It can be extremely overwhelming. Today, we would like to share some resources and tips to managing and maintain education through out you + your child’s journey with cancer.
First, things first: Communicating with your child’s school:
Set up a meeting with your child’s  teacher  principle  school nurse. By ensuring an effective conversation will help eliminate any unnecessary issues that may arise from lack of knowledge. Here are a few things to discuss at your meeting:
Consider getting permission for your child to wear a hat or scarf at school if hair loss is possible due to their specific treatment plan.
Ensure to communicate the activities that your child may not be able to participate in, such as gym class.
Create a plan of action regarding keeping your child as caught up on school work as possible
Discuss what information you are comfortable discussing when classmates have questions about cancer
Medical Information to convey:
Inform them of your set treatment days as well as any potential side effects to recognize while in the classroom.
Discuss online options that your child may have with their school.
Any medicines the child will need to take and how to give them
Special devices the child will use and how to use them
What kinds of problems to watch for and report to you
Emergency management of possible problems
Medicines, treatments, or activities that your child cannot have or do
Whom to call with questions and emergency contact information
This is very important, although it may be the easiest aspect to let slip through the cracks. Pediatric patients are prone to feeling isolated and lack a sense of “normalcy” in their life. By maintaining their interaction with classmates + school will have profound impacts on their emotional life.
Make time to have your child communicate with their classmates or friends. There are many options to do this such as video chat, texting, phone calls or email.
If your child is going to miss class, have them ask a classmate or teacher to photocopy that day’s notes.
Sometimes treatment can leave you feeling very weak, so consider the possibility of half days to ensure they are getting some social stimulation.
Acceptance. Self-acceptance is a key component to empowerment. Accept your past and present as it is. Do not spend time critiquing your every move. If there are things you would like to change or reevaluate, you have the time to make those changes-but for now genuinely accept yourself as you are.
Release the Negativity. Relieve yourself from any negative feelings, thoughts, people or situations that you may be experiencing. A major component of this step is forgiveness. By letting go of anger and forgiving others will leave more room for positive thoughts and feelings.
Endorphin Releasing Activities. Engage in a hobby, laughter or if you are able to exercise. Any activity that makes you happy and engages your mind will help with the release of endorphins-the chemical that creates happiness. Try these amazing Pilates routines you can do anywhere, anytime:
Peaceful Activities to Quiet the Mind. Activities that engage your mind and quiet the countless + overwhelming thoughts you may have will help on your empowerment journey. These activities could range from meditation to yoga. Check out our various features of peaceful activities:
Goals, Goals, Goals. Take a moment and really dig deep and recognize what you want. What are your goals for the day, the month, the year, your lifetime? Recognize them, write them down, embrace them and most importantly LIVE THEM!
Self-Discipline. Whether it is regarding your household chores or taking a chance on something you are passionate about-follow through! To be able to truly engage in self-empowerment, you do not want to feel as though you have been defeated. By always following through with your goals will eliminate the possibility of this feeling.
Choice. Although we do not have control over everything in this life, we do have one choice: our perception and outlook of those uncontrollable situations. Seek the best in all that you can.
Today we are excited to share a guest blog post for our “Tips + Tricks to Chemotherapy” from our wonderful board member, Sravan. Not only does Sravan know technology like the back of his hand, but he also understands the importance of technological advances in the medical world from his own experiences of medical trauma. In this post you will find helpful information about this technology but will learn how to embrace this ever changing technological world.
Technology means progression in life, in many ways you can say fear oftechnology is a kind of phobic condition in which the individual is generallyafraid of progression or advancement in life.
The main cause of fear of technology is lack of knowledge. You are afraid onlybecause you are unaware and uninformed.
Take for example the smartphone. Most of us today have them. And knowingly or unknowingly we have already taken the first step in removing fear of technology
Technology is improving every day, new developments are constantly infiltrating our lives. This holds true with health care as well. Technology helps in information gathering, research, treatments, and communications and have given medical providers new tools to work with and fresh new ways to practice medicine.
The internet has become one of the most important medical research tool and a source for medical information. Quality of life, health and medicine is getting better every day because of technology.
There are few things that we take for granted now than we ever did even 3-4 years ago.
Apps – Track your medications, alarms that remind you of time to take meds. There are now close to 100,000 mobile health apps in 62 app stores, with the top 10 apps generating over 4 million free downloads every day.
Vault – Medical Vault, Stores your health information, procedures. This provides HIPAA-compliant storage for all the protected health information (PHI)
Fitbit / Fuelband – Health Fitness increased adoption of wearable tech, such as the— a market that has grown to 100 million units as of 2014.
ID bracelets - stores your emergency contacts, medical, allergy, and insurance information in a secure, online profile that is immediately accessed
To stress further on the importance of technology here is an account of say a heart patient.
Heart patients require special medical care and immediate attention. In some emergencies, the heart patient may not always be able to speak or communicate. The person may even be unresponsive. Furthermore, an emergency may occur when a relative or a friend who has knowledge about the heart patient’s condition may not be around. In these cases, a heart patient bracelet can silently inform the attending medical personnel of the disease, if they have a pacemaker or cardiac implant, and even where the person keeps their medication (like nitroglycerin) if necessary.
Having these devices has enabled doctors to use e-mail, texts, videos, and conference facilities to consult colleagues from all over the world and has helped the patient and providers many trial and errors and has simplified the need to guess a patient’s condition.
Eliminate the unknown. Gain as much knowledge as possible about the Doctor, their office and the general procedures. Most fears come from the unknown, so arming oneself with information is a great antidote.
Now that we have realized medicine and technology go hand in hand how exactly do we embrace this never ending change?
Check back next Monday for Sravan’s follow up post!