Spotlight on Cellie Coping Kit
Learning of an illness diagnosis never comes easy, no matter what your age. The challenges surrounding the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery can be overwhelming at times, with each family member coping in their own unique ways. Some will cope well, adjusting to their “new normal”. However, some may need additional support. It’s during these times children and families need extra support to cope and tools, like the Cellie Coping Kit.
The Cellie Coping Kit is a child friendly, research based tool designed to help children and families cope with illness. The kit includes Cellie, a stuffed toy, coping cards for kids, and a book for caregivers. The kit helps kids acquire new skills and strategies for coping with their illnesses. For example, the coping cards provide suggestions for what to do if a child feels sad, hates taking medicine, or is worried about a doctor’s appointment. The companion book for caregivers mirrors the child’s cards, addressing common stressors related to the illness (for example: my child gets sick on the way to the doctor/hospital) and tips to help them cope. General topics covered include communication about the illness, appointments and procedures, treatment side effects, adjusting to treatment, school and friends, and challenges concerning the whole family.
Research on Cellie suggests that families find the kit helpful, engaging and educational. Children and parents report learning more about their disease and ways to manage the challenges and stressors effectively.
One patient wrote, “I hugged Cellie really tight so I didn’t get hurt” (needle stick). Another patient said, “The pain tips help me. And like the signs, and the pain thermometer, the faces, and the belly breathing card, that helped me a lot”. A caregiver shared, “ I like the Kit because it gives a definition of the disease and details, things to do to help prevent pain crises, and tells you how to deal with them when they do arise”.
The Cellie Coping Kit is designed primarily for children ages 6-12 and can be used by the child on their own, with parents or other trusted adults, in conjunction with a child life specialist, mental health therapist and/or the medical team. Currently three versions of the kit exist: Cancer Cellie (English language), Spanish Cancer Cellie, and Sickle Cell Cellie. Cellie’s future includes additional disease adaptations, currently undergoing research for usability and feasibility.