Humor Helps for Children Coping with Cancer: Spotlight on Andrew’s Laughing Gas

We all know how much laughter can help when we are feeling defeated. Children battling cancer can use an emotional boost and humor can help. I’m thrilled to feature a wonderful nonprofit, Andrew’s Laughing Gas that has a mission to “make warriors laugh one toot at a time.”

Andrew Mercier was diagnosed with Leukemia 2 days before his 10th birthday. This came as a surprise to his family and friends, as he had always been a high-energy, adventurous and active kid. He was known to many as the class clown, and thoroughly enjoyed that title. He loved to make people laugh, creating his own jokes and playing practical jokes on whomever he could. He was smart and enjoyed showing off what he learned in school.

Throughout Andrew’s battle, he rarely complained. He took every poke, every pill, every procedure like a true warrior. He sometimes got frustrated and would ask, “why me?”, but never let it pull him down for too long. He loved to joke with his nurses and doctors and loved it when they joked back. He binged watched Sponge Bob and must have seen every single episode during his hospital says. He loved Stranger Things and watched all 3 seasons multiple times. He went to The Great Room at his hospital to craft and create new things to display in his room. He was so proud of his crafts and showed everyone what he made.

During Andrew’s hospitalization, he was given a “farting unicorn” that he named Dookie. Dookie was a large, stuffed unicorn with a remote-controlled fart machine sewn inside. Andrew would hide the remote under his sheets and hit the button to catch his unsuspecting victims off guard. Andrew found joy in making others laugh, and Dookie was a great source of laughter for Andrew.

Sadly, Andrew didn’t make it until his next birthday. His cancer was an extremely rare type of Leukemia. His doctors said only 12 cases worldwide of his specific type, have been reported. Andrew fought hard, fought gracefully, and was an amazing source of smiles and laughter until the end. Andrew passed away from his Leukemia on December 15, 2019.

To carry on his love of laughter and practical jokes, we are starting Andrew’s Laughing Gas. We want to give every child fighting this awful disease a reason to smile and laugh, and just be a kid. We are making stuffed animals that, like Dookie, remotely “toot” to hand out to as many kids as we can reach, to spread Andrew’s laughter to others. We know Andrew would love for his laughter to continue.

Where to Order

Andrew’s Laughing Gas works closely with child life departments serving oncology patients. For a hospital donation, please send a direct emailFamilies can also request a stuffed animal from the ALG website. 

Show Your Support

Andrew’s Laughing Gas is a nonprofit that is primarily run by volunteers. Make a donation today to help bring laughter to children coping with cancer.

Learn more at AndrewsLaughingGas.org and follow on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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One Child’s Mission to Bring Joy to Hospitalized Children: Spotlight on NEGU Jessie Rees Foundation

“How can we help them?” Jessie Rees asked this simple question to her parents as they drove home from her cancer treatment appointment. She was dealing with her own diagnosis of a brain tumor (DIPG) but still wanted to help other children. She ignited hope and shared it. The motto, NEVER EVER GIVE UP (NEGU) was coined by her. 

The Jessie Rees Foundation was quickly formed with a mission to encourage kids fighting cancer. Jessie began to create JoyJars, a container filled with activities, games, and comfort items for children. They have been shipped to all 50 states and over 40 countries. 

Jessie courageously fought cancer from March 3, 2011, to January 5, 2012. She lost her battle, but her life is forever honored through her mission of NEGU. 

I have personally seen the positive impact on children when they receive a JoyJar. The smile on their face and excitement in their voice says it all. They feel the pure joy of being a kid and are inspired by Jessie’s mission.

Get involved with ClubNEGU

If you have a child with cancer, then sign them up for ClubNEGU. They will receive monthly JoyJars that will help to boost their spirit during treatment.

Make an Impact

Join Jessie’s mission to Never Ever Give Up by making a donation today or volunteering. They are always looking for compassio0nate hearts to help spread joy to others. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Using Art to Support Children Coping with Illness

Guest Blogger, Caroline Robins at Kids & Art

Kids & Art Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides art experiences for families touched by pediatric cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, to heal, empower, encourage, and create memorable experiences.

Due to COVID, our weekly hospital programs at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Stanford Children’s Hospital were put on hold in March 2020 as were our monthly destination workshops at creative venues. We took our 10 years of experience and our creative resources to be there for our families when they needed us most by creating virtual art workshops as well as amazing art lessons on youtube, to continue healing through the arts. Life was challenging enough for immunocompromised children before COVID. It is even more important to give them access to our workshops now so they can engage, connect, and create with others.

Check out our video about our COVID Response

As our Kids & Art researcher Dawn Linhardt has shared, research has shown that supportive services and therapies such as Kids & Art have been shown to affect stress as demonstrated through decreases in cortisol levels. These interventions are low cost and based on the research have the potential to decrease rates of readmission due to secondary infections.

Stress-relieving interventions such as art are becoming the standard in cancer care within integrative medicine. Preliminary evaluation of data from a study that includes Kids & Art families indicates that the physical symptoms and isolation associated with cancer treatment has a negative effect on the quality of life. We believe that supporting services like ours have the potential to alleviate stress and address the issues of isolation and ultimately improve the quality of life measurements.

Kids & Art is staying true to our mission to always be there for families wherever they are in their treatment. We are delighted to welcome patient families from other states including Alaska, Maryland, Michigan, and Florida as well as our home state of California. Visit our website for more details and a link to register.

What do our workshops include? Along with guided art projects we also include virtual tours of artists’ studios and galleries and invited guest artists. The workshops provide a space for creativity, fun, and stress relief and they bring a sense of togetherness for all ages in a supportive environment.

We have also started a larger Conversation in Improving the Quality of Care by inviting experts from the Art + Health + Innovation space. We have made all these conversations available for free on our YouTube playlist.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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