When young children suffer from cancer

February 15th is an important day in the calendar of many children’s hospitals around the world. Today is International Childhood Cancer Day. 

Along with hundreds of organisations worldwide, RED NOSES International is part of a global collaborative campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for these children and adolescents, the survivors and their families. Our work has brought us into close contact with many children suffering from cancer in all countries that we operate.

Sadly, childhood cancer robs the young of their childhood and youth. Such a diagnosis shatters every sense of a “normal life” for children, adolescents and their families. At the age of supposed innocence, enjoyment and pure joy, kids with cancer are faced with difficult and demanding situations, isolating them for long periods of time, from peers and friends. Most often, the treatment journey is marked by tremendous pain and stress. Thus, we believe that no child or family should go through these hardships alone.

Our Jordanian team of clowndoctors regularly interacts with children suffering from cancer. In one such case, our clowns encountered a young boy who pretended to be angry and threw toys both at the visiting clowndoctors and hospital staff. To him it was a game. 

The patient pretended to be a young prince guarding his kingdom from outside invasions, in this case, his kingdom was his hospital room and the evildoers were the clowns Ghalta and Jabsena. Yet, this small joy proved to be transformation, as when the clowns left the room, they could hear his laughter as he enjoyed the small victory of their retreat.

Ghalta and Jabsena just before their visit.

It is in these situations where clowndoctors make the greatest impact. They provide a much needed psychosocial support to those dealing with these situations. The contribution and value of performing arts embodied in the person of the clown for the recovery, wellbeing and happiness of the patients is increasingly recognized by health professionals and national stakeholders in those countries where regular hospital clowning takes place.

Resolving the tense situation with the young patient proved to be no challenge. On their fourth visit, the child changed his tune and invited Ghalta and Jabsena into his castle. By the time they entered and gained his trust, they encountered the opposite problem, the patient didn’t want them to leave! He had been kept in isolation due to his medical conditions, the visits from the clowndoctors provided him with a real connection and helped him to rediscover his sense of play.

International Childhood Cancer Day promotes increased appreciation and deeper understanding of issues and challenges relevant to childhood cancer and its impact on children, survivors, families and, society as a whole. It also spotlights the need for more equitable and better access to treatment and care for all, everywhere.

To learn more about International Childhood Cancer Day, see the official page here.

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