Melanie Goldish: Creating Strength, Courage and Hope

We are so honored and privelaged here at the OncWorker to introduce today’s guest blogger! Today we introduce Melanie Goldish to you.
 
Melanie Goldish is the founder of Supersibs, the global nonprofit organizaiton that supports more than 250,000 siblings of children with cancer. When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is thrown into crisis, but in the rush to assist the ill child, the well siblings are often ignored. In 2002, Melanie set out to change this reality…..and change it she did!  We’ll let Melanie share the story about how she changed the world of oncology for the better by addressing the needs of siblings head on.

 

Imagine a world where suddenly everything around you makes no sense at all…. where loved ones suddenly speak in whispered voices when you enter the room; wipe tears from their eyes so you “won’t see”; are gone when you arrive home from school or have a teacher conference; where you’re ripped apart from the person who just yesterday was there with you to laugh, fight, play, tease and hang out with every day… and if this were you, all you know is that your brother or sister has cancer.

Each year more than 18,000 young children and teens in the U.S. alone (and thousands more worldwide) face the frightening “emotional diagnosis” of cancer as their sibling faces down this disease. And tragically, until recent years, no one had considered the lifelong impact on this vulnerable population – the “shadow survivors” – the siblings.

Prompted by our own family experience and supportive research, my SuperSib son Spencer, Survivor son Travis and I founded the national nonprofit organization, SuperSibs!, in 2002 from our basement. Now, 9 yesars later, SuperSibs! has grown to an organization that is serving over 26,000 vulnerable siblings and their families as they face childhood cancer.

Now we’re no longer in my basement! Our dedicated staff and partners know that it’s vital to change the culture of oncology care to ensure that siblings of children with cancer are honored, supported and recognized. Why? Because if supported, siblings can emerge through and beyond this cancer journey with resilience, strength, courage and hope. We can prevent… or even eliminate… much of the lifelong negative impact from this challenge. Now THAT’S worth our attention — TOTAL family healing!

It’s high time to bring integrated, on-site sibling support to hospitals and cancer organizations as a standard of care. And now, thanks to a special LiveStrong Community Program, 25 U.S. hospitals/organizations are launching SuperSibs! branded, evidence-based programming right on site to help siblings heal. Hooray for progress!

I remember seeing the lost look on my own son’s face like it was yesterday. For Spencer, as well as many thousands of “cancer siblings”, the emotional impact continues to surface at various times through maturity. The good news? Finally, there is progress… we are seeing more awareness, programs and partnerships to solve this part of the healing puzzle.

Now, no longer must 12 year old “Brianna” feel secretly wracked with secret guilt, fearing she caused her little brother’s cancer when she pushed him down on the playground.

No longer should “Ravi” feel afraid to tell anyone that he thinks he might catch cancer from his sister.

No longer should 18-year old “Jeanine” struggle in silence with an eating disorder to punish her own body, a disorder which she has traced back to the death of her sister. “Jeanine” was her sister’s bone marrow donor – two times.

No longer should 16 year old “IIvan” have to feel isolated, helpless, insignificant and alone… that there’s no one who truly understands or knows how to support what he is feeling and living each day.

No longer should dedicated mom “Olivia” feel the anguish of her reality: “As my child with cancer got better in the hospital, my ‘well child’ at home got worse.”

As one adult SuperSib friend said to me: “It’s not ok that siblings are unintended collateral damage in the war against cancer.” I couldn’t have said it better. So please, remember that when a child is diagnosed with cancer, siblings are profoundly affected… for one year, three years, five years… a lifetime. Together, we can “redefine the cancer experience” for these deserving SuperSibs! brothers and sisters… so they can survive and thrive through and beyond the cancer journey, too.

Check out http://www.supersibs.org to refer a family for our free ongoing services, to learn, volunteer, or donate to our cause. Thank you for helping us make a meaningful impact on our SuperSibs!!

~ Melanie

Melanie Goldish

Founder SuperSibs!

660 N. First Bank Drive Palatine, IL 60067

Main  847-462-4742

mgoldish@supersibs.org

http://www.supersibs.org

Travis, Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN, Spencer and Melanie at the LiveStrong Global Summit in Dublin, Ireland.

If you have any questions, thoughts or ideas, please post them below.  We will be sure to forward them on to Melanie!  Many thanks to Melanie for taking time to share her experiences with everyone here at the OncWorker! 

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