I picture my mom with our dog, Jane, at the hospital. Jane was sitting nicely, wagging her tail. Many little children gathered around giggling and petting her.
For a few minutes, they can forget about their cancer and the chemotherapy treatments they soon have to undergo or are in the process of getting. In fact, they are undergoing a treatment with Jane — spirituality treatment! The children can forget about their treatments for a few minutes and play with Jane instead.
My mom is a volunteer at the Albany Medical Center Hospital. She volunteers at the hospital every Tuesday. The section she works in is called Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Clinic. This clinic is specifically for young children undergoing outpatient chemotherapy. Jane is registered with Therapy Dogs International. My mom trained Jane, and then took and passed a difficult test with her.
After taking the test, my mom had the ability to take Jane to places such as nursing homes, schools and hospitals for visits. My mom and Jane do volunteer work to make people feel better. They help make days a little less boring and painful.
Jane cuddles up with the children, and is very gentle around their IVs (tubes with medicine usually inserted in their arms with a needle). Sometimes the children giggle at Jane as she performs tricks. One of her “famous” tricks is when Jane picks up her fake pretty pink telephone and then drops it into their small hands.
Praying for a miracle
I imagine the parents of these children must go through a lot. My mom says that sometimes parents sit in a chair in the hospital room, praying for a miracle that will cure their child.
It must be torture to watch their children suffer. I also imagine the children stuck in their hospital beds, with sharp needles in their bodies delivering medicine. I don’t think many get to be a kid and go play on the playground during their treatments.
Not only does Jane make the children feel happy, she likes to sneak in a few kisses to the children, sometimes for the first time since they began chemotherapy.
My mom becomes very good friends with many of the children and their parents. She always gets lots of requests from people who want to see her and Jane.
Sometimes, she becomes very attached to some of the children and then finds out that a child she regularly visited, sadly lost their battle in cancer. This always leaves a hole in her heart, yet she maintains the commitment to visiting the clinic with Jane, and sharing laughs with the children.
Although my mom cannot cure cancer, with Jane she does a great job with curing spirits. My mom began volunteering because she thought Jane would be a great way to reach out to others. I also passed the Therapy Dog test with Jane. I can go to schools and nursing homes with her, but I have to be a certain age before I can volunteer at hospitals.
I can’t wait until I’m old enough, because I am eager to follow in my mom’s footsteps. I also want to give children with a cancer a little cheer while they are battling this difficult disease.
Hannah Conroy is a seventh-grader at the Academy of the Holy Names in Albany.