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Amazing Kids! of the Month

Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!

Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things.  We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements. 


Amazing Kids! of the Month for February, 2005: 
Amazing Kids of Cancer Survivors; U.S.A.
 



Quotes of the Month

"My life is a miracle and my family is amazing.  They (and my brother Tony had a huge part in helping me) were unbelievable, and would not let me give up even when I wanted to.  I can't tell you how blessed I am with the support system I have behind me..."
 
"...My husband is absolutely a saint, as he took the hardest hit from it (having to work, take care of the kids and take on the enormous task of caring for me, too...)...My kids, of course were incredible and probably the main incentive to hang in there when I didn't want to.  They were very scared but very brave.  I have countless stories of their patience and love."

Cathy Jerz,
Amazing mom and cancer survivor;
Los Angeles, California

"I believe that there is a good in every bad. The good in this bad is that I realized that anything can happen. When I hear about stuff like this, I almost always think “ Oh, this won't happen to me.”  Also I am much more grateful for people and things. My sister and I hardly get along and this made me love my sister more because anything could happen and she could be gone the very next day or second."

Sarah Toles, age 14,
Amazing niece of Cathy Jerz;
Los Angeles, California

"The kids enjoy the camp tremendously and look forward to the 'cabin times' because it is the only time when they can talk to friends who understand their feelings."
 
Bryn Pyke
Amazing coordinator of Camp Kesem UCLA
www.campkesemnational.org


Our February Amazing Kids! of the Month award is dedicated to all the amazing kids and teens throughout the world who have parents or other family members who have struggled with cancer.

Cancer is a group of serious, life-threatening diseases. The good news is that the rate of cancer survivors in the United States has increased steadily in recent years, thanks to reasons such as advances in medicine, early detection, better eating and exercising habits.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that there are nearly 10 million cancer survivors in the United States today.  Many of those survivors will be parents, aunts or uncles, or grandparents with one or more children in the family.  It can be very difficult for a child or a teenager to cope with having a parent or other family member with cancer.  Kids need to find a way of getting through the tough times, sharing their experiences with other kids who can understand what they've been going through.  But too often, they don't know where to turn or who to talk to. While there are support networks for cancer patients and survivors available, most people don't realize there are also places for kids of cancer survivors to go for support.

If you are a child of a cancer survivor and need help, or if you know someone who is, be sure to check out the "Related Links" section at the end of the story below for some amazing resources.  You'll also find immediately below some heartfelt stories and poetry written by some amazing children and a niece of a cancer survivor.  You'll also read the inspiring personal reflection of their amazing mom and aunt who fought cancer and won!  We hope this story may inspire those who read it to reach out in some way to help those kids who might need some support. 

And don't forget, if you, or a young person (or persons!) you know, has an amazing project you are involved in, or a special skill, talent or ability you want to tell the world about, be sure to let Amazing Kids! know about it!  Teachers are invited to nominate their entire classroom and the amazing projects they are working on too!  Simply complete our new online nomination form for the Amazing Kid! of the Month award, or email us! 


Table of Contents 

Amazing Kids of Cancer Survivors

"My Walk" - Reflections of an Amazing Mom and Cancer Survivor, Cathy Jerz

Two Amazing Resources for Kids of Cancer Survivors:

Camp Kesem
Kid Support

Related Links



Amazing Kids of Cancer Survivors
 



Kids have an amazing way of bouncing back, even after going through some pretty tough times.  There are many ways kids can find comfort and support to help them get through the difficult times surrounding their parents' illness.  One way is to talk to friends who have gone through similar experiences.  A camp program like Camp Kesem (see below) is one good way to meet other kids who have parents who are cancer survivors. Another great program is from Kid Support (see below), which has created a program especially for kids of cancer survivors. 

Another way to help kids feel better is for them to express their feelings through writing.  Below are a couple of poems by two sons of an amazing mom and cancer survivor from California, Cathy Jerz.  Also below is a letter from Cathy's 14 year old niece, Sarah Toles, which expresses her feelings when she first found out her Aunt Cathy had cancer, how her faith helped her cope, and the lessons she learned from the experience.  And finally, there is a moving piece by Cathy herself, in which she reflects upon all of her blessings.

If you'd like to share your own experiences, or tell us how you felt about reading the poems and stories below, please feel free to write us at:  sharing@amazing-kids.org.  We'd love to hear what you have to say!




Amazing Daniel, age 7

Roses
 
by Daniel Jerz, age 7

When my mom got sick,
I felt so sad.
I went to see her in the hospital,
just me and my dad.
When she lost her hair
it made me so mad.
She was so sick,
it made me feel bad.
Her hair reappeared
which made me feel glad.
She's the best mom
I ever had.

Momma,
Roses are red, Violets are blue
How I love the sweet smell of you.
Love, Daniel

 





Amazing Brian (front, right of center, in red vest) and friends from his Show Choir and
Chamber Choir at Martin Luther King High School, Riverside, California



Shadow of Terror
by Brian Jerz

You never know where it is
It comes sneaking up
Watching for a victim to pass
It watches. Its eyes are pain
It’s breath illness;
Its name, is cancer
It will attack any one
No family is safe.
 
Stop, here she comes
Like a shield; She is strong
Taking the hits like a soldier of God
Protecting her family
She will stand tall till it is all over
This person is my mom. But what comes next is startling
The blow of her hands coming across
They slam into the face of death
Struggling to break free of the menace
The menace that harms; Cold and uncaring
The battle for life begins.

Its tactics are evil
It will not stand for struggle
It will over power and confuse
So the hand will strike the face
The face will bite the arm
And chaos will erupt
Is the cure as bad as the disease?
Not when you are as strong as she.

I stand by her side; Day after day
Hearing the swish of the I. V.
And the beeps of the machinery
Marking the rhythm of my thoughts
Pondering to myself
Why is the fearsome Dragon of Death
Attacking the heroin of glory?
Only God will tell- Or will He take

Wait- I see a light at the end of the tunnel
As it grows, it’s suddenly faint
Then the Death Dragon reappears to fight again
But not to fear, there is chemo
And the faith and power of a loving mother
To fight away the remains   
They will not stop; She still won’t give up Smoke blows everywhere
What has happened?
The monster that was once a dragon, full of death
Is now a worm, a pitiful worm.

The light reappears
And I see her eyes open
The swishing stops and the beeping has ceased
I feel she is with me
But I will always be haunted
By what Shakespeare once said,
“To be or not to be [To live or not to live]
That is the question.”
  

She lives





Pictured above are Cathy Jerz and her husband Bob (back center) with her sons Brian (third from right) and Daniel (front left), and close friends Karen (front center) and Ruth (far right) and Ruth's daughters, Carly, age 16 (second from right) and Janelle, age 11(far left).

Cathy has known her two friends her entire life and each are Godmothers to her sons....Cathy says:  "Ruth's daughters said a rosary for me every night while I was sick (and that was a LOT of nights!)" ...This was before the walk in Oct.



A Letter from Sarah Toles, age 14

"It was a normal, happy, day. My dad and I were about to go running, and then all of a sudden my mom came out of her room crying. I knew something was wrong. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, 'Your Aunt Cathy has cancer.'  I didn’t say anything, I couldn’t say anything. I just ran up stairs crying.

"I remember sitting there, in my room, for a long while until my mom called me downstairs. She explained the situation and it made me feel a little better. The only thing I could think of that night while lying in bed is that I was going to lose my aunt. I have never experienced anything this scary in my life. Then I remembered what my mom told me: the only thing we can do is pray. So that is exactly what I did, for many nights. Every time I thought about my aunt, no matter where I was, I would say a little prayer in my head for my aunt.

"A few months later we went! to California and one day we went to The City of Hope to see her. When I walked in the room I could hardly tell it was her. I wanted to cry that instant, but seeing the beautiful smile on her face made that horrible feeling go away. I was so happy to see her, and I could tell she was happy to see me too. I never knew what a huge affect praying had until the day that she got out of the hospital. It was the best day for our whole family. It was so nice to see her at family events again.

"I believe that there is a good in every bad. The good in this bad is that I realized that anything can happen. When I hear about stuff like this, I almost always think 'Oh, this won't happen to me.'  Also I am much more grateful for people and things. My sister and I hardly get along, and this made me love my sister more because anything could happen and she could be gone the very next day or second."


Ti Amo
 ::Sarah::


Back to Table of Contents



"My Walk" - Reflections of an Amazing Mom and Cancer Survivor, Cathy Jerz


Amazing Mom and Cancer Survivor Cathy Jerz, walking with
another amazing young cancer survivor Justin Williams (center)
during the American Cancer Society "Relay for Life," Ramona High School,
Riverside, Calfornia, May 16, 2004


Amazing Cathy and husband Bob Jerz, in front of Hope Fountain, City of Hope, Duarte,
before participating in "Walk 4 Hope," Oct. 2004


This banner was at the head of the first lap of the Relay For Life which was the
"Survivor Lap"...those with purple shirts on are all survivors!!
After the initial lap, the families and supporters joined in
and the walk went continuously for 48 hours!


"My Walk"
by Cathy Jerz

In the still hours of the morning when I was walking with my Lord,
I dared to ask the ever-present question on my mind...
"Why, Lord...Why was I given this cross to bear,
this cancer that was eating away inside me?"

He took me by His mighty hand and replied softly in my heart...
"My child, I did not give you this cancer. What I gave you was the strength and the means to battle and overcome it.

When your heart asked, "Why must I have this surgery?"
I sent you angels in the form of gifted surgeons and loving nurses...

When your head asked, "How will I deal with this pain?"
I sent pharmacists and loved ones to administer gently to your every discomfort...

When your body asked, "Why am I so cold?"
I sent a blanket of love to cover and protect you."

When your soul asked, "How can I carry on?"
I sent comfort in the form of clergy, friends, loved ones and
people you have yet to meet to lift you in prayer...

When your blood said, "I can't fight this demon by myself!"
I sent angels whom you will never meet to provide the precious blood needed to sustain you...

When your mind said, "I can't take this anymore!"
I sent the angels that held your hand and carried you through the night.

When your family said, "Will this never end?"
I sent patience and compassion and love beyond compare...

My child, I carried you through this battle with a legion by my side...

The friend who stood with you and persistently encouraged the doctors to find the tumor...The family that stayed vigilantly by your side and held you close every step along the way... The children who made you smile and laid beside you to read and talk and laugh you back into existence... The elves who did your Christmas shopping and decorated your hospital room...The husband who took over the household and at the same time managed to find time to call everyone to keep them apprised of your status...The doctors who administered the dreaded medicine that overcame the disease inside you...The nurses who patiently tended to your every need... The loved ones once gone from your life, only to reappear when you most needed them most...The colleagues who created a circle of prayer and sent baskets of love...The teachers who lovingly guided your children through the storm... The wonderful people who cared for your children when you couldn't...The friends, and even strangers who brought food for the bodies of your family and prayers for the comfort of their souls... The fellow survivors who encouraged you and gave you hope along the way...The saints and all the heavenly hosts that guided your path...

You were never alone on this journey.

When I said, "Thank you Lord, it is finally over!"

He smiled and said to me, "My dear child...it has only just begun...your task lies ahead of you now...you must take these blessings and these lessons with you and share them...they are more precious than gold...you have been given riches beyond your wildest dreams!"

When I returned from this walk my heart was full and my path was clear.

With all my heart, I thank you all, and I love you... -Cathy



Two Amazing Resources for Kids of Cancer Survivors:

Camp Kesem:

Camp Kesem National (www.campkesemnational.org) creates magical summer camp programs for children across the nation who have a parent who has had cancer.  The camps are operated on college campuses across the United States.

The organization provides training and support to university student groups who in turn organize and operate the Camp Kesem programs on their respective college campuses.

Camp Kesem National provides participating campuses with the tools they need to establish successful, self-sustaining Camp Kesem programs.

To find a Camp Kesem on a college campus near you, visit their national website at: www.campkesemnational.org/join_us/families_coping.htm

If you don't find one near you, don't give up!  There are Camp Kesem programs starting up on new campuses all the time!  You may be able to help start one on a college campus in your area.

The newest camp will be held this coming summer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). For additional information, please contact the camp coordinator Bryn Pyke at: 

brynpyke@ucla.edu

--or by phone at the General Camp Kesem UCLA mailbox: 310-824-0672


Kid Support:

Kid Support (www.kidsupport.org) is a nonprofit, charitable organization founded in 2000 to help children and teenagers cope with having a parent or other family member who has had cancer. Based in Evanston, Illinois, the program is available to all families, regardless of their geographic location or economic status.

It is a unique program, as there are not very many similar programs which support kids who are children of cancer survivors. Their program includes "12 Sessions of Kid Support." A brief summary of the goals and activities of each session can be found on their website at:  www.kidsupport.org/pages/what/sessions.php

Kids and parents alike can contact Kid Support by email at:  info@kidsupport.org
or by phone at: 847-869-1323.


RELATED LINKS:

Kid Support - a Non-profit organization that helps children cope when a parent or other family member has cancer by providing free adult-led peer support programs: www.kidsupport.org

Resources for Families of Cancer Survivors (i.e. free materials, books, videotapes, etc.) to help families of cancer survivors, as listed on Kid Support website:  www.kidsupport.org/pages/resources/featured.php

Helping Kids Cope with Cancer  - article on Connect for Kids websitewww.connectforkids.org/resources3139/resources_show.htm?doc_id=248626

  A directory of Camp Kesem camps throughout the U.S.:  www.campkesemnational.org/join_us/families_coping.htm

Camp Kesem National website:  www.campkesemnational.org/index.htm

The American Cancer Society website: http://www.cancer.org/

Cancer Survivors Network:  www.acscsn.org/index.html?popup=1

President's Cancer Panel Report 2003-2004: "Living Beyond Cancer:  Finding a New Balance" - The report's preparers, the President's Cancer Panel, hope their findings in this report will help "alleviate the severe burdens experienced by cancer survivors and their families:" http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/ADVISORY/pcp/pcp03-04rpt/Survivorship.pdf

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A Special Message from Amazing Kids! for all you kids:

It's no secret...every person has an "amazing-ness" inside of them, just waiting to be discovered.  (Sometimes we just need a little help in finding out what that "amazing-ness" is!) 

If you are doing some amazing things too, we want to hear about it!  Send us your stories about your amazing accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are!  We are always looking for new stories.  And don't be shy!  We'd love to hear from you!



Here's an idea you might want to try:

WHY NOT HELP OTHERS SEE THEIR OWN POTENTIAL?

If you know someone who needs a little encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them?  Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special talents! 

Amazing Kids! is looking for teens to be Amazing Teen Volunteers and Ambassadors . If you'd like to join Amazing Kids! in helping to spread the word, please email us at: info@amazing-kids.org

HELP US SPREAD THE WORD:

  It's cool to be an Amazing Kid!

 

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