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A Boy’s Guide to Cancer

14 Nov

A terrific story by Philadelphia Inquirer writer, Sally Friedman, describes how a scrappy, 10 year old soccer player named Jarrod Skole converted his experiences with bladder cancer treatment and guided imagery into a terrific book to guide other kids.  He wrote it with his father, Gary, and it’s called, Imagine What’s Possible, published by the American Cancer Society.

Although Friedman says nothing quite like this has ever been done before, that’s not quite the case.  Another awesome kid named Garrett Porter wrote with his therapist, Pat Norris, about using imagery and biofeedback to beat his inoperable brain cancer back in 1985. The book is called Why Me? and it’s still in print.

But that’s not to take anything away from this one. Just wanted to set the record straight.

Here’s how the writerly Friedman starts the story:

He loves soccer. Can't get enough of it. So when Jarrod Skole was told in 2006, at age 10, that he had cancer, his first question was "Will I still be able to play soccer?"

Now a freshman at Lenape High School in Medford, handsome, friendly, and blessed with a wry sense of humor, Jarrod doesn't remember everything about that strange night when everything changed.

But the last few years have left an indelible mark, changing his family and leading Jarrod and his father to write a first-of-its-kind book.

Imagine What's Possible, published by the American Cancer Society this year, is a child's-eye view of visualization - the technique of using imagery to lessen anxiety and even pain - as a tool in coping with cancer.

While the book is still far from a best seller, Jarrod already has his first speaking engagement next spring at Gilda's Club South Jersey, a cancer support group in Linwood. And last week the Skoles' book was named a finalist for Children's Picture Books by USABookNews.com, which could bump up sales by 10 to 15 percent.

The run-up to that book, and to Jarrod's diagnosis, care, and current cancer-free status, are now chapters of the Skole family history.
 
It was after an afternoon lacrosse game, Jarrod's spring passion, that the Skole family went out for dinner in April 2006….
 
The whole article is too long to include here, but it makes an important point about how a family can deal with a very sick kid who’s suffering terribly from chemo.  A social worker, Joan Rolsky, is quoted as saying,

"One of the common things in a family dealing with a child's cancer is to totally indulge the child, and give him enormous power," says Joan Rolsky, a social worker at Children's Voorhees Specialty Care Center, which treats young cancer patients.

Jarrod was a regular chemotherapy outpatient there.

"Some parents are terrified all the time, and forget that even kids with cancer may need some limits," Rolsky says.

In any case, pass Friedman’s story on to those you think can use it.  And if you want to buy the book, you can find it on Amazon or through www.dreamofhope.org. The Skole family has started a foundation affiliated with United Charitable Programs, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that facilitates charitable projects. The family, through sales and donations, hopes to provide books at no cost to the families of children with cancer.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award