One Mother’s Journey Through Grief is Bringing Hope to Others. Spotlight and Giveaway from Comfy Cozy’s for Chemo

CC Logo

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time to share a story of one amazing mom, Lorraine Tallman and her passion to help others through ComfyCozy’s for Chemo.

Lorraine lost her 13-year-old daughter, Amanda, after a 4 year battle with cancer. Amanda hated that she had to constantly lift her shirt for the doctors, interns and nurses to tend to the chemotherapy port in her chest. Before she passed away she helped design a fun tie-dyed shirt that would provide children with modesty, dignity and comfort, while still allowing access to their port. The Comfycozy for Chemo was born.

ComfyCozys Collage

The shirts have angled zippers or buttons that allow the front to flap open and provide access to the port. There is an inside pocket for the port, when not in use, so it doesn’t scratch and irritate a patients skin and slits with snaps to manage all the lines coming out of the port.  The shirts come in size 6 months to Adult 2XL and come in a variety of tie-dyed patterns. There are short and long sleeved shirts, hoodies, dresses and onesies.

Amanda charged her mother with getting the shirts, free of cost, to all pediatric cancer patients.  Lorraine has raised enough money over the past 3 years to give away almost 4,000 shirts! Lorraine is engrained in the community of Phoenix  Children’s Hospital and teaches a class there for doctors and nurses called Dignity for the Journey.  She also sits on the hospital’s Family Advocacy Council .  We are delighted that ProMedica shares Amanda’s dream of keeping children comfortable and providing them dignity in the harsh world of childhood cancer.

ComfyCozy’s are shipped to any patient that does not already have one, connect with us via Facebook or online at Comfycozys.com to receive one. If you would like to sponsor a child or make a donation, click here. If you are interested in volunteering or being added to our mailing list, email Jessie Swygert at J.Swygert@ahras.org.

Be sure to check out Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

ComfyCozyzGiveaway
We will be giving away one tie-dyed logo t-shirt to a lucky winner!
Choose one or more ways to enter:

1. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment below.

2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy, leave a comment and tag a friend on the post.

3. Facebook: Follow ComfyCozy’s for Chemo, leave a comment about the #ChildLifeGiveaway.

4. Twitter: Follow, Like and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy and @ComfyCozy4Chemo

5. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy and @ComfyCozy4Chemo, Like and Tag a friend in the post.

Good Luck! Winner will be chosen 9/10/15

Traumatized in the Hospital

Imagine yourself as a small five-year old having strangers come in and out of an unfamiliar room that you have to stay in. These strangers don’t introduce themselves and begin to poke and prod at your body. You are sick, you don’t understand what is happening, people talk about you in front of you, but don’t include you. They use big words that you have never heard before but you sense that it isn’t something good. Now they have a needle and want to stab you with it.

If you have ever worked with a child life specialist than you understand how vital their role is in a health care setting. Unfortunately there isn’t enough of us. The child life department in hospitals may not have enough funding to cover all pediatric areas. There also might not be a strong director to lead a team of specialists with continuing education, supervision and support.

If there is a bigger awareness to the importance of their role than departments can be funded more appropriately and the leaders of the health care system can incorporate child life as a key component to their medical team. They will realize that the specialists are an important part for family centered care and help to establish a better hospital experience.

As a CCLS myself, I have a better understanding of what should happen during patient care. When I hear that people weren’t treated with the best quality of care it bothers me, especially when I hear that it happens to my own family members.

One year ago today, my five-year old nephew and two-year old niece were admitted for E.Coli which then turned into HUS. They were incredibly sick and absolutely miserable. The pediatric hospital that they went to had just been renovated with beautiful aesthetics but the quality of care was missing.

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The family centered care approach wasn’t up to par; the bedside manners, communication and preparation for procedures were just a few things that needed improvement.

The child life specialists were spread way too thin. One full-time and one part-time who tried to cover their pediatric unit and intensive care unit. They obviously had too many patients and not enough time to really assess their needs and offer the right interventions.

With them living in California and I am in New York, the distance couldn’t have made it more agitating. I wanted to be there physically to provide support as both a family member but most importantly as a child life specialist.

I tried to coach my brother and sister-in-law over the phone on ways to help provide support to their kids. At the same time, I was also trying to let them process and express their own feelings. I talked a lot about advocating for their kids, asking for a CLS and using positions for comfort.

My nephew and niece faced a lot of traumatic medical procedures. There was no rapport and trust built with the medical staff, so they were incredibly frightened and angry over anything and everything (rightfully so).

I reached out to a friend of the family who provided some child life play techniques with my nephew. He was able to express himself, gain some control back and get a little normalcy in his hospital experience. She is a future CCLS!

My brother and sister-in-law had an incredibly supportive team of family and friends. They helped them get through this awful experience and to continue living their lives to the fullest.

child life specialist

The child life profession will continue to grow. I hope that as time goes on there is a broader understanding of the importance and need for the service.