Finding the words to capture the true essence and impact of DanceBlue is nearly impossible. There is no way to put down on paper the powerful bonds created, laughs shared, hope reinstalled, and compassion spread through this incredible organization. My DanceBlue journey began as a dancer during my freshman year of college. I knew to attend UK, DanceBlue was something I was determined to be a part of. After my first marathon was came to an end, I realized I was hooked. Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to serve on Family Relations as a committee member and now as the Family Events Coordinator.
As a Family Relations committee member, I have had the opportunity to volunteer weekly in the DanceBlue Clinic while patients receive their treatment. I have hundreds of memories of playing with patients and getting to know the staff and families that I hold close to my heart and will cherish for the rest of my life. Seeing the obstacles the patients have had to overcome at such a young age has been such a bittersweet feeling. On one hand, you are devastated for the patients and families, yet you cannot help but feel amazed by their strength. These patients and their families face the harshest realities of the world so early on in life yet they handle it with grace, humor, and wisdom beyond their years. Being a kid, in general, is a tough job. You are trying to figure out who you are and where you fit into the world- but throw a cancer diagnosis on top of that and suddenly that job of growing up becomes that much more difficult.
I had an experience in the Clinic that was a sad one but has forever changed my life and the way I look at our patients. I was playing with a patient who was brand new to the Clinic and was beginning to go through some of the side effects of treatment- one of them being hair loss. As we carefully added pieces to our lego fort we were building, the little boy asked me if I had a hat. I told him that I didn’t but I would keep an eye out for one. He sat for a moment in silence staring towards the floor but began to play again soon after. As we continued to play his mom was telling me that they were going to go to Chuck E Cheese after treatment to celebrate him not crying after having his port accessed. As we were wrapping things up, the little boy asked to go to the bathroom. When he returned he had tears in his eyes and informed us that he didn’t want to go to Chuck E Cheese any more. When his mom asked him why he simply pointed to his head where there were only a few patches of hair left. His mom and I began to reassure him that he looked great and that kids wouldn’t look at him funny because of his hair. Then, he began to pull at his t-shirt and cry because when he let it rest on his chest, you could see the outline of his “Charlie” port accessed. Never before have I felt so heartbroken. Cancer takes so much from our patients and their families, and sometimes this, unfortunately, includes part of their identity.
Cancer can invade nearly any tissue or organ in our bodies, but it is our job as members of the DanceBlue community to make sure that it never invades the human spirit.
Our DanceBlue fight is for childhoods and the opportunity for our patients to grow into the wonderful people that the world deserves to know. Our fight is for the kids because no child should ever feel embarrassed to go to Chuck E. Cheese because of their illness.