You will have 30 minutes to Map your Cancer Story. From the days before you were diagnosed to now and even tomorrow. Every needle prick, transfusion, round of chemo, surgery, recovery,… Include your feelings, the ups and downs. Be as accurate as possible. Use any symbols or metaphors you want.

Now take me or a friend on a Dance Journey through your map.

These were the instructions I gave to the teens from 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt this past weekend during their sleep-away camp at the Health & Hope Oasis in Wadi Natrun, Egypt. You might remember, I was honored to go last year as well. You could feel the weight of everything these kids have gone through in these 16 months between camps. Their maps were weighty.

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For one of the sessions this camp, they brought in an Egyptian woman who specializes in Positive Psychology. She encouraged the teens to be positive, hopeful by shifting the way they take things.

When facing a bad situation, don’t…

1. Take it Personally

2. Take it as something that always happens, always will happen

3. Take it as a Universal

But instead…

1. Don’t take it personally

2. Remember it is temporary

3. Realize this is just a special circumstance

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As we were waiting for the bus to the Health & Hope Oasis, I saw this girl. She had just minutes before found out she is in palliative care, which means no more treatment just pain killers to die in peace. She asked her mom to wheel her over to me, smiled for the first time in awhile and asked for my mobile number! Hahaha. Pure hope.

The palliative doctor says he is considered “the butcher” here because he helps kids die rather than live. He asked me to start an arts program specifically for the palliative patients and families. I hope I can. That would be incredible.

And remember my mom. She’s been facing her own cancer through chemo, major surgery, radiation burns, rehabilitating neuropathy, and so much more these past two years. Last Mother’s Day, we were all her kids and I thank you all for what you did for my family. Well my mom posted two words this week, “Cancer Free.”

Breast cancer is awful: it is a beast. It is scary and cruel. But unlike pediatric cancers, there is certain funding for research. There are advancements in treatment. There is a layer of hope.

In pediatric cancer, the hope is a lesson in itself. When they say all hope is lost, you still ask for the phone number.

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Donna taught me hope.

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Donna’s 4th Birthday Party – despite being told there would be no more treatment

How to Hope

1.  DONATE to childhood cancer research through the Donna’s Good Things shave event for St. Baldrick’s by clicking on the green “donate” button.

2.  SHAVE your head at our event on March 29 in Chicago by clicking on the blue “join us” button. Or if you are in Cairo, contact me.

3.  MAKE a camp possible for children with cancer in your area.

4. VOLUNTEER to lead dance, music, cooking, leadership or art activities at a camp or children’s cancer hospital.

5. BUY a St. Baldrick’s Super Hero t-shirt (just $14.99) for the kid or woman in your life who is your hero by clicking here.  All proceeds between now and February 28 will be credited to the Donna’s Good Things campaign.

6.  CREATE hope by getting involved with Donna’s Good Things or hosting your own event for St. Baldrick’s under the Donna’s Good Things Campaign.

7. DANCE in unexpected places.

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