It meant so much to us that they cared for Zach like one of their own children.
Zachary was diagnosed with Choroid Plexus Carcinoma, an extremely rare brain tumor, in October of 2005. In March of 2006 we started traveling to Houston for chemotherapy and radiation.
Zach attended CQ for the first time in 2008 when he was just barely 8 yrs old. He had been in remission for a year but I have to say, as a parent, I was a bit anxious about sending him 2 hours away from our home for a camp. His sister's were going to attend with him so this made him and myself more comfortable. They were 6 and 11. I wouldn't see them for nearly a week.
Upon picking them up I could hardly get them to leave. They were so excited and wanted to show us the entire camp and everything they had done during the week. They received Heely's, visited Power Play, had their faces painted and so much more. They just couldn't stop talking about how much fun they had during camp! I was so glad to see how involved they all were and how much they were able to be "just kids" rather than "the kid with cancer". They could experience fun without the labels. This meant so much to myself and my husband. For the next year all we heard about was "I can't wait to go back to camp next year!"
The following year the kids enrolled for camp again. However, this year was different. Zachary had become very ill during the prior 3 weeks and we weren't sure if he would be able to attend. Little did we know that he was suffering from a severe relapse. My husband and I decided that he should attend as much of camp as possible and the nurses assured me they would take care of him and watch him closely. I put all my trust in them and allowed Zach to attend. I was able to call and talk with him and the nurses whenever I needed. They welcomed my call. He was only able to go a couple days before the nurses had to take him to the hospital. We met them at the children's hospital where they had been comforting him. They stayed by his side even after we arrived. They were so compassionate and truly concerned for Zachary. It meant so much to us that they cared for Zach like one of their own children. Within 2 days we had left to return to Houston to start Zachary's life saving treatments. CQGKC allowed his sisters to finish the camp even though Zach had to travel 12 hours away for his care. They took extra good care of our girls during this very emotional time.
Zach fought the fight of his life over the next year and in July of 2010, Zach and his sisters attended camp for their 3rd year. The camp made special arrangements for Zach's sisters to attend since the prior year they had suffered so much stress and emotional hardship while watching Zach suffer on life support and throughout his stem cell transplant. CQ had sent so many heartfelt letters and cards supporting us during this very difficult time. They brought our family into their hearts.
Our children have made lifelong friends at CQ. The companions and staff are absolutely AMAZING! They are so fun to be around and have such outgoing personalities that there is no way anyone could leave camp and say they didn't have a good time! It's so wonderful that these children get the opportunity to share their experience with others who are faced with the same challenges as their own. They don't have to worry about anything else but having fun!
-Tia, mother of Zach; Camper since 2008
I absolutely loved my experience as a companion at Camp Quality!
After conquering cancer myself at the age of 21, I know first hand what the battle involves for the patient and their family. I found the goals of Camp Quality to be ones I believed strongly in. Going through something traumatic can force a young person to grow up and mature much faster than their peers. Camp gives these kids a chance to just be kids again. It also gives them the chance to be around other kids who are going through the same things that they are.
An illness in the family is both emotionally draining for the entire family as well as financially. Giving these kids a chance for a week of fun-filled activities, away from the chaotic routine of hospitals and doctors, is priceless. I had the opportunity to watch a five-year old little girl rush to each activity with laughter and a grin from ear to ear. I feel most rewarded by my experience when I think of her smile, her perfectly coordinated outfits, and her tiny little pigtails. It seems like just yesterday I was waking early to help get her ready for the day; the crafts we would make, the big fish she would catch, or playing games together at the pool. I also think of all she has been through and how much she deserves to be a little girl again.
I urge anyone that can help to fund this experience in anyway or volunteer their time to do so. Please help us in continuing the Camp Quality tradition of “Letting Kids with Cancer be Kids Again.”
-Clara Holland, Companion
Camp Quality Greater Kansas City
434 NE Station Dr.
Lee's Summit, MO 64086