My son Waseem absolutely loves camp. I mean really LOVES camp.
If you ask him, he’ll say his favourite activity is to make sock puppets with his favourite program specialists Mike and Abbey OR playing UNO with Linda in between visits to SickKids. If you ask me, it doesn’t matter what he does at camp – as long as he’s doing it with his camp friends!
You see, my son was diagnosed with cancer in January – right at the beginning of the year and into the thick of COVID. He was admitted to the hospital at the beginning of February and completed his final day of treatment at the end of April, just before his birthday. But things are much better now. He had his line taken out at the beginning of summer and he even went swimming! To see my son swimming without his line, brings me absolute joy.
Waseem’s cancer diagnosis changed our lives instantly. Our days were now filled with visits to SickKids, routine tests, and treatments – it was one of the hardest times in our life. But we found the light when we started attending camp programs in the hospital and virtually.
Suddenly, my son was smiling and laughing and for the first time in a while, he had something to look forward to. He had friends and a safe space to express himself – without anyone judging him or making him feel out of place. He had people to talk to that shared the same experiences as him and knew why he didn’t have hair.
At last week’s virtual summer camp he made and designed a face mask through the arts & craft program. He even asked one of his friends to come over and help him! I just love how camp is so inclusive and makes everyone feel welcomed. I am so happy and thankful that virtual programs are still available, because he’s not quite ready to attend in-person programs yet.
Camp for us is so much more than a place. Camp is where my son can experience milestones that he missed out on due to COVID and his cancer diagnosis. Since we have spent so much time at the hospital, it keeps him connected, and stimulates his brain. Plus, it gives me and my husband a much-needed break at the hospital because he LOVES playing games with the staff at camp!
Thank you for being there in the hardest part in our lives. Thank you so much to all the donors and supporters that keep camp going. Because of you, my son can continue to have something to look forward to every day. For that, I am so grateful.
*Camper and family names and images have been changed to protect privacy