The final tenth of a mile…it’s the hardest part of any race. During my internship this fall with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), I had the privilege of running in the Parkway Run 5K to end childhood cancer. Now, let me explain that I am not a runner. I’ve spent the past twenty-something years being a homeschool mom, teacher, volunteer, and mentor. This fall I entered a surreal world where I’m walking to the children’s hospital, living on the 22nd floor of graduate student housing at the University of Pennsylvania, and tirelessly working to complete my Child Life Internship to regain the coveted CCLS initials I once held. It seems like a lifetime ago that I completed my first Child Life Internship at Morristown Memorial Hospital in 1992. Being forty-something, enduring a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, heart surgery, a host of other surgeries, hospitalizations, physical therapy, and an auto-immune disease, I’m no runner.
As a parent, I have experienced the receiving end of Child Life, with my youngest enduring 14 surgeries, countless hospitalizations, a chronic illness, and ongoing medical procedures. Completing my first rotation in Day Surgery/PACU, I wholeheartedly served a diverse population of children and families, each with their own unique needs, from the Philadelphia area and around the world. With the assistance of interpreters, I provided services to every child, regardless of language, culture, or financial resources. No matter what the diagnosis, communication limitations, or disability, I have witnessed play surpassing barriers every day, building connections and creating joy amidst uncertainty.
Having lost my own mother to cancer when I was 12, I am honored to devote my second rotation to Radiation Oncology. Looking ahead to the finish line, I want to thank my husband, children, family and friends who believed in me, prayed for me, and encouraged me to pursue my dream. Receiving this diversity scholarship as a returning, non-traditional student has meant more to my family than words could ever express. I am grateful every day for the financial assistance offered through the Association of Child Life Professionals which has enabled me to temporarily relocate many miles away from home, and am honored to have been selected as a Fall 2017 recipient.
This is my final one tenth. I will complete the race. But my purpose isn’t to show the world what I have accomplished, it’s to look ahead at all I have yet to contribute as a Certified Child Life Specialist.