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Child Life Specialist position in critical need of funding
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Child Life Specialist position in critical need of funding

Child Life Specialist position in critical need of funding
Austin is a 3rd grader who has been battling cancer since he was 2-years-old.  He was excited to see our live radio broadcast at Nemours Children's Specialty Care.

Child Life Specialist position in critical need of funding

One of the most important positions in need of funding is the Child Life Specialist.

If the doctor's a general, think of the Child Life Specialist as the soldier. They execute the battle plan and help the kids get through the cancer treatments, both physically and emotionally.

Doctor Cynthia Gauger is part of the oncology team at Nemours. She helps diagnose cancer and often breaks the terrible news to moms and dads.

"They're taken aback," Gauger added. "It's a big surprise. You don't come in here thinking your child has cancer."

But as tough as that is, it's only the beginning of her work.

"It's a matter of dealing with the diagnosis," Gauger noted. "Then it kind of depends on what [the] diagnosis is."

Once that's known, the Child Life Specialist goes to work. One of the key components of that job is helping the kids get through all the tests and treatment.

"They come for physical exams," Gauger said. "They come for blood draws. They may need blood transfusional therapy [and] chemotherapy."

And it isn't as simple as getting the job done physically. There's also a big emotional component.

"We have to make the child comfortable and the parent comfortable," Gauger stated. "There is a lot to it."

Part of that comfort includes making sure the kids don't put up a fight to get treatment. That's why one of the most critical parts of the job is to make treatment somewhat fun.

"You don't want to have a child that has to come to this clinic once or twice a week every month kicking and screaming at the door because they're scared to death," Gauger added.

That's where Gauger says the Child Life Specialist can make the biggest impact.

"We can't do without that position to make the child more comfortable," Gauger noted. "It becomes more of [an] OK-to-fun place to come."

And it's not just for the kids. It's also for the parents.

"Some of these moms, as we get into it, they can't wait to get here because they have fun in [the] clinic," Gauger stated.

Unfortunately, the demands of the job have only grown, especially in recent years.

"When I first started 15 years ago, I think we had about 60 to 65 new cancer diagnoses [a year]," Gauger said. "Now, we're around the 90, 95 mark."

That's why Gauger says it's so important to have the money to keep this position going.

"[Otherwise], all they associate with this clinic is badness," Gauger added. "As in, take a needle to my port. I get these medicines that make me throw up. I'm stuck in the back room for hours on end."

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