Last week, Michael and I returned to Las Vegas to work with one of our partners, Cure 4 The Kids. Over the past few months, we’ve enjoyed getting to know their team and organization as we’ve begun helping them shape their strategy for the next few years. On the first morning of our visit, our meeting shifted from strategic conversation to a moment that touched us deeply and framed our purpose for the trip, and potentially how we work going forward.
Imagine this with me, you are standing in the middle of a waiting room, and there is a bell hanging on the wall behind a locked plexiglass door. Underneath the bell reads this:
Ring this bell
Three times well,
It’s toll to clearly say
My treatment’s done,
This course is run,
And I am on my way.
That poem is special for the children at Cure 4 The Kids. They get to ring that bell at their NO MORE CHEMO PARTY! Yes, that is right. This is the day when treatment is completed and they begin their next stage of life in their new normal. So there we were, standing in the waiting room, with associates, and families waiting for treatment. And now with the little girl, who is now five and her family as she gets to ring the bell!
After that ceremony, we attended an party with the family. WOW! Did we learn a lot! This young lady’s name is Cierra. She is five and has a twin sister Sophia. Cierra was diagnosed at 18 months-old with leukemia. We learned that Cierra’s favorite color was pink, and she loved Barbies. So at the party, there were pink Krispy Kreme donuts, and Barbies. I remember when she looked at me, and told her Mommy, “he dyed his hair pink just for me.” I looked at her and simply said, YES I DID! Her story is powerful and inspiring, and we will share more details later on her journey. What I want to share is some empathy highlights and learnings from that day when Michael got to sit down with the family.
- Become The Expert – Many times for these families, the mother or father have to become the expert and learn as much as they can about the cancer or disease. And at the same time, they have to still be able to function in their day to day lives.
- Talk To Me Like I’m A Seven Year Old – These families have to learn not to nod and pretend like they understood what is happening. They have to ask questions. Lots of questions. Google words that they don’t understand. And, again, remain strong for their child.
- “What Would You Do If This Was Your Child?” – It is ok during this time to ask your clinical team, “What would you do if this was your child?” Every parent, every person wants whats best for their child or family member.
There are so have many other things we could share, but we just wanted to scratch the surface today, but most important, we wanted to celebrate Cierra and her new norm. LIFE WITHOUT CANCER! Remember this, CANCER SUCKS!
What I Learned And What You Can Learn
This is pretty simple for me this week. I learned that we must be willing to walk a day in the shoes of the human (not a patient) and their families. We work in a very complicated industry and want to make significant change. It will not be easy, but we will do it, one human at a time.
What I Will Do And What You Can Do
We have committed as a team to stop and listen! Listen to what everyone on the journey is going through. A diagnosis in a family can be world changing, and we need to have empathy for not just the human, but for the family.
I challenge you this week rather you are a healthcare provider or work in the industry, to remember to put the human first, and the disease or diagnosis second. I applaud Cure 4 The Kids and the journey they have created for their families.
Go and kick CANCER’S ASS today! I look forward to my next #nomorechemo party!