Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Whenever cancer resources come my way, I usually push them aside, because I think that I will never use them. Unfortunately, I had cancer hit each grade that I work with this year in different ways. At the 3rd grade level, a staff member discovered he had cancer, at 4th grade a teacher, and in 5th grade a student. Suddenly I had to tackle a topic that I was hoping to avoid. Luckily, the LiveStrong organization was there to help!
LiveStrong has several resources available to use to help address the topic of cancer with students, whether it be a staff member, a teacher, or a student who is affected by cancer. In 3rd grade guidance we used a curriculum that included an Arthur video about a cafeteria worker getting cancer. Since I am not a doctor and do not have all the answers about how cancer affects the body, I was glad to have this video which explains how cancer and it's treatments work in kid friendly terms.
The website has videos that can be used with older kids as well. I like the LiveStrong program because it focuses on survival. Hearing that a staff member or student has been diagnosed with cancer can bring up a lot of memories and emotions from students who have lost a loved one to cancer in the past. In our LiveStrong unit, we focused on survivors of cancer, and how each person deal with cancer differently. I wanted the students to know that cancer is not a death sentence, and to focus on the idea that many people survive from cancer, and can even become stronger afterwards, as Lance Armstrong did when he went on to win the Tour de France. Many students know the story about Lance Armstrong, and focusing on how Lance Armstrong survived and became even stronger makes students feel more comfortable about the topic.
Each grade level showed their support for the person dealing with cancer in different ways. In 3rd grade, the students wrote cards and drew pictures for the staff member dealing with cancer, and wore yellow on Mondays, which was the day he receives his chemo treatments. In 4th grade the students wore pink on Wednesdays to show their support, which is the day that teacher receives treatments. Last week the students took a picture to send the teacher to show them how they are dressing in pink on Wednesdays, and a few students made her a book which included the picture. In 5th grade, I have seen multiple acts of kindness and consideration for the student dealing with cancer, especially since she has started attending school again. Another great resource we used in 5th grade was the children's hospital in Omaha, which sent someone up to talk to the class about the student's condition before she returned to school.
LiveStrong has a great deal of resources you can use if this is ever an issue you have to handle yourself. Below is a picture that the 4th grade students sent on a day they wore pink to support their teacher! Any little action the students can take to show support makes them feel that they are helping and supporting their teacher as she fights her battle with cancer.