Take Charge

Cards From Children Cheer Up Cancer Patients at Moffitt

August 11, 2017

Kids-with-cancer-cards-640.jpg My oldest son, Scotty, 17, and middle son, Carpenter, 15, worked with the students at Dale Mabry Elementary School to write get well cards.

Dr. Blaise P. Mooney
Dr. Blaise P. Mooney, Director of Breast Imaging

By Dr. Blaise Mooney 

My family and I began our personal fight with cancer in September 2012. What I thought was going to be simple turned into multiple surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy. When my cancer recurred for the third time, I began to understand that there are no "simple" cancers. My last chance was an aggressive surgery in December 2013. It was during the holidays and decorations brightened the
hospital, but I did not feel very festive. People I knew came by
to visit, but I had a new tracheostomy and could not talk. I had
to read and write to communicate. 

This card has become known to my family as the "Than and Now" card. The "Than" side (or then) is of a patient with no hair. The "Now" side shows the simple message of "FIGHT" and the hair has regrown.

One day a Moffitt volunteer delivered a bag of get well cards made by children. The first card was hilarious. It was my first time laughing with the trach tube. It was very strange, but it felt so good to laugh. Another made me cry. Another one said, "Do not give up… I know you can beat this." All of the cards were written by elementary school kids whom I did not know. For the next two weeks, I read them all every day, multiple times a day. They were inspiring. When my family came to visit, I showed them the cards and we all laughed together. My wife and boys saw the positive impact that the cards were having on me.

My wife contacted a teacher at my youngest son’s elementary school and
told her what a positive impact the cards had. They came up with the idea to have our three boys, who were 12, 10 and 8 years old, go to local elementary schools and share our cancer story and talk about the cards I had received. My boys told their story, of how they felt while I was in the hospital, to a group of their classmates. These children then went to each room, with supplies to make cards. The response was overwhelming. We soon had hundreds of cards.  

Cancer card made by child
This card makes me cry every time I read it. Not every story has a happy ending. I keep this card on my desk because it reminds me how lucky I am to get to take care of cancer patients.

Most of them were sweet and heartwarming, some were hilarious, others not so much. We had to read through them all to make sure they were readable and appropriate. During one of the reading sessions, I found a card from my youngest son. Cancer, as seen through the eyes of child, is a scary prospect, yet he was positive and encouraging. His message was simple, "I was scared, but I knew you could do it." Staying positive helps people heal.

When I think of "healthy," physical attributes come to mind. But "healing" also involves emotional and mental components. Those cards, reflecting cancer as seen through the eyes of a child, were an inspiration to me. I am now three years and eight months with no evidence of disease. I am back at work full time, taking care of women with breast cancer. I am also
proud to report that my boys have continued the tradition of Cards for Cancer Patients. We look forward to many future reading sessions and hope that these cards bring a little bit of joy and healing to all who are fighting the battle against cancer.