Families in Focus: ellie & Timmy

Kids & Art Focuses on the Whole Child, not Just the Cancer Treatment

A parent's worst nightmare coming true. A visit to the doctor's office, being handed a diagnosis that flips your world upside down. "No, it can't be happening to us!" At an age when kids are testing their limits, pushing their boundaries and generally having fun being two, Ellie was diagnosed with Leukemia. Her treatment lasted close to 2 1/2 years—852 days to be precise. Each day was filled with some kind of pain or dread. Countless times, the thought was, "Why my child?"

"During the first year of treatment, Ellie spent all of her time in the hospital or at home,” says Ellie's mom, Polly. A saving grace: Her twin brother, Timmy. Timmy gave her someone to play with when she was feeling well enough. “Their bond is pretty spectacular," says Polly.

“Timmy was a godsend,” noted the twins’ mom. “Had Ellie not had him, she would not have been interacting with anyone but her caregivers.”

The twins began participating in Kids & Art workshops last year at a Kids & Art destination workshop hosted at Google Headquarters in Mountain View. Since then, they have attended several more workshops.

Like the majority of Kids & Art families, they learned about the workshops from their hospital social worker. These first-line care teams tend to recommend patients identified as suited to Kids & Art or other adjunct care services. The regular art sessions are offered in tandem with other care. Some social workers handle a caseload of around 10 to 15 families. Kids & Art serves as an open door to these families.

"Kids and Art has made a positive impact on both Ellie and Timmy. Purvi and her team do a great job. My kids have truly enjoyed the workshops. We are very grateful for the organization and look forward to attending future workshops,” says the twins’ mother.

Kids & Art is still very grassroots and 98 percent volunteer run. Its programs rely on teams of volunteer artists who bring skills and knowhow—in both artistic technique and heart-centered compassion—to Kids & Art families throughout the workshop season. It’s flashmob style: dates are announced, and well meaning volunteers vetted and trained by Kids & Art sign up with the nonprofit’s workshop manager, Kiran Chadha, herself a mother of a child who has been in ongoing treatment and has participated in many workshops.

Kids & Art focuses on the whole child, not just the cancer treatment. It uses art as a tool to bring normalcy to the lives of kids like Ellie and to their siblings, like Tommy, as well as other members of the child’s care circle. This includes grandparents and best friends. Through its programs and planned destination workshops, its mission remains to empower, encourage and create memorable experiences for everyone who walks through its doors.

"Now that we are 1 and 1/2 years off treatment, we are able to enjoy our days much more,” she said. “Ellie loves horse back riding and playing with her brother. She also loves playing with her American Girl dolls. Of course the fear of relapse is always there,” she says. “Any cold or ache sends you to that place," she says.

They say 'every cloud has a silver lining', and for Ellie's family the silver lining is how they truly don’t worry so much about the little things. This means they can appreciate the days they have much more.

Le Cirque is Open!

The Kids & Art Foundation will host Le Cirque de la Vie Charity Auction Soirée at the Palo Alto Art Center on September 19, 2015, raising funds to provide therapeutic arts programs for families fighting pediatric cancer. The public is invited to preview selected art – much donated by renowned local artists – on exhibit starting September 2 at the Palo Alto Art Center, located at 1313 Newell Road in Palo Alto. The artwork will be among the items available for bid at the fundraiser. Works include pieces created by local artists collaborating with Bay Area children enrolled in Kids & Art workshops.

Guests will participate in a silent auction using 501auction.com/kidsandartorg, an auction service chosen for its mobile bidding feature that allows on-site bidding via smartphone or tablet access, as well as remote bidding. Those outside of California and not present at the event can still participate through remote bidding. The auction will feature high-interest leisure and luxury items, such as one-of-a-kind tours, sports and spa experiences, as well as goods donated by local food and wine makers and many other businesses in the community. The cirque theme is a salute not only the wide-eyed wonder of circus entertainment, but it also evokes the circus feeling families may experience in their daily lives once a cancer diagnosis is made.

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