Cell phones – carcinogen or not? The fear of the unknown

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Guest Blogger, Jennifer Costa

For the past 12 years, I have been working as a Certified Child Life Specialist in pediatric oncology. During these years, I have had the privilege to work with incredible children and their families. This work has also convinced me more and more about the importance of preventative measures and overall wellness. I try to eat healthy, exercise and get enough sleep.   Now that I am a mother myself, I try my best to do everything possible to keep my children safe.

Every day we are all surrounded by cell phones, IPads and other electronics. Each of these devices emits radiation. There has been much debate on whether this radiation from cell phones (and other devices) can cause cancer. Studies thus far have been done on adults so the concern is that if there is a link to cancer, children may be at great risk because they started using cell phones and other devices at an earlier age. “Cell phone use is now widespread even among younger children. It is possible that if there are health effects, they might be more pronounced in children because their bodies might be more sensitive to radiofrequency (RF) energy. Another concern is that children’s lifetime exposure to the energy from cell phones will be greater than adults’, who started using them at a later age” warns the American Cancer Society.

BioZen is a small sticker chip that attaches to all of your devices and is scientifically and medically proven to reduce the harmful effects of mobile radiation. BioZen was just named a Class 1 Medical Device and can be put on devices such as cell phones, baby monitors, Ipads, and computers.

I want to do everything in my power to protect myself and my family from these devices. Biozen never expires, and even if you trade your phone in every 2 years, the $50 you spend on Biozen comes out to $2 a month. To me, it is worth it.

Click here to purchase your Biozen. For any questions or further information, please email me at Jennifer.s.costa@gmail.com

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Enter the giveaway to win a FREE BioZen.

Choose one or more ways to enter:

1. Sign up for email notifications at Child Life Mommy and leave a comment below

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Good Luck! Winner will be chosen 6/14/18. Shipped to U.S. and Canada residents only.

My Family Is Stronger Today Because Of Our Journey With Cancer

My Family Is Stronger Today Because Of Our Journey With Cancer

Guest Blogger, Nat Miller

Sunday, June 3 is National Cancer Survivors Day, a day of celebration for cancer survivors and a day of hope for those currently fighting cancer, like my daughter Hazel. In honor of National Cancer Survivors Day, I’m inspired to share my family’s story with you. I hope that my words provide some solace to families hurting, hope to those who are afraid and light to those who are trapped in the midst of darkness.

I have started this narrative numerous times, each an attempt to say what I felt needed to be said about my family’s journey with cancer. All of those attempts before now focused on the “cancer part,” the hospital visits, the medications, the ups and downs of testing, side effects, traveling, and mainly despair.

Wrongly, I felt that to give my perspective as a father, I had to walk my readers through the everyday heartache that is dealing with cancer. But then I realized that by doing so, I would be giving cancer too much power, too much credit for what it is. Instead of telling a story about cancer, today I want to tell a story about people, love, and support.

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Hazel is the youngest of my four children and was 2 years old when diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She is now 3 years old and has entered the “Maintenance Phase” of her treatment which will last until she turns 5 years old in 2020. The past year has been tough, the toughest of my life in fact. Since that fateful day in April 2017 when Hazel was diagnosed, I have shed many tears; mourning the pain and heartache that Hazel has been forced to endure in such a short time on this earth. In the days following diagnosis, I lamented that it should be me and not her. I was so angry that my youngest, most vulnerable child was being attacked by an invisible villain that I had no control over, that I could not kill.

I would love to say that I dealt with the events of this past year with some sort of grace, a type of dignity, but alas, I do not feel that was the case. It was hard, so excruciatingly hard, that we simply got through it however we could. My family of six was often split up, some of us attending chemo visits in the hospital two hours away, some of us trying to maintain a normal life in our hometown of Marietta, Ohio. Events were missed, vacations foregone, and birthdays moved. This experience changed our life in almost every way possible, but it never broke us, never destroyed our bond.

My family is stronger today because of our journey with cancer, and here is why: people. The people that we have met during this process have been unforeseen blessings, providing comfort, support, love, and respect at every turn. We have met people from all walks of life that helped provide the stilts to prop my family up as we struggled to manage our situation. We have never been made to feel needy when we asked for help, nor weak when we stumbled.

Some of those most cherished people have been representatives from The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS). During the early days of Hazel’s treatment, as time off work stretched longer and hospital stays were more prevalent, the NCCS stepped in to provide financial support to meet a specific, direct need for my family. As we progressed through treatment, the NCCS followed up with us, providing informational resources as we transitioned into new treatment phases. Finally, as we continue to walk this uncertain path into the future, the NCCS has been quick to provide emotional and ongoing support for all of our family members.

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The story that I want to be told today is not about cancer or even about my family specifically, but is about the people that fight cancer, and the people that help others fight cancer. They are as courageous as the patients themselves, waking up each day with a goal to help families in certain peril. These individuals understand all of the toughest aspects of dealing with cancer and use their resources to help keep families like mine afloat in the tumultuous sea of life. The impact the NCCS has had on my family has been profound and will shape our life from now until we leave this earth. For them, we are eternally grateful and forever in debt.

– Nat Miller, father of Hazel Miller

Click here to learn more about the support from The National Children’s Cancer Society


Supporting Parents Through a Child’s Medical Diagnoses: Spotlight on Case for Smiles’ Coping Space

Supporting Parents Through a Child's Medical Diagnoses Spotlight on Case for Smiles_ Coping Space

Guest Blogger, Cindy Kerr from Case for Smiles

As child life specialists, you understand the importance of providing support to children and their families. So much of what you do every day – from addressing parent’s concerns about a diagnosis to helping kids find the words to express how they are feeling – is centered on advocacy and providing relief, which are both essential to fostering positive coping techniques.

Ensuring that kids are at ease during hospital stays has personal importance to me. When my late son Ryan was diagnosed with osteosarcoma over a decade ago, I searched for ways to bring a smile to his face. One of the things I did was sew whimsical pillowcases to brighten up his hospital bed (you may have seen them at your hospital).

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Ryan’s legacy lives on through the nonprofit organization Case for Smiles. Our mission is to help children and their families cope with the stresses of life-changing childhood illnesses and injuries.

From the beginning, our primary focus has been on working with volunteers to sew and distribute pillowcases to children in hospitals (1.7M delivered to 362 hospitals so far), and it still is. However, we realized that there was more that could be done to provide emotional tools that promote healing. That is why we launched a comprehensive online resource called Coping Space, which is designed to help families, schools, communities, and health professionals find information on medical trauma.

The impetus for creating Coping Space came from what my family experienced after Ryan’s diagnosis. My life lost all sense of normalcy, and I worried about so many things when it came to Ryan and his two sisters, and of course my husband Gavin. During hospital visits, the staff was very helpful, but then I would come home and forget to take care of myself. I thought, like many moms do, that my role was to keep everything together. I pushed the anxiety and worry to the backburner and soldiered on, which in hindsight I realize wasn’t the best thing to do. To this day, I still experience symptoms of PTSD, which I now know isn’t uncommon.

Through my work, I’ve had the privilege to know leading Clinical Psychologist Dr. Anne Kazak, who writes extensively about the ongoing distress that some parents experience after a child’s illness. In one study that Dr. Kazak did on pediatric cancer, she found that 20% of families (30% of mothers) observed had at least one parent who had PTSD and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), which include:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma through triggers
  • Avoidance
  • Feelings of emotional numbness
  • Hyperarousal (jumpiness, altered sleep patterns, trouble concentrating, irritability, feeling threatened)
  • Constant fears and anxiety

These shocking PTSD rates are comparable to combat veterans. However, there is hope. What research has found on a consistent basis is that symptoms of trauma can be lessened, and wellbeing optimized through coping methods aimed at reducing stress.

The resources at Coping Space were written in partnership with leading pediatric stress and cancer organizations who lent their expertise to help create content for the site: The Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress (CPTS), co-located at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children; The Devereux Center for Resilient Children; and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

We offer tips, strategies, and support that can be used before, during, and after a child’s hospital stay. The resources at Coping Space are continually updated and expanded, for instance, there is a blog where we hope to share coping stories. As child life specialists, you know that there are not many vetted online sources for information to share with young patients and their families. We are proud that Coping Space was created with extensive input from our Associate Director, who is trained as a child life specialist with knowledge of how effective the coping recommendations are at reducing symptoms of stress and trauma.

From the beginning, Coping Space was conceived to expand the focus from concentrating on the ill or injured child and their parents to reach a wider variety of audiences. Currently, the Coping Space resources are designed for children, siblings, parents, caregivers, the community, and schools. We also offer a special section on resilience because developing the ability to bounce back from adverse situations is critical to coping.

The work you do as a child life specialist is invaluable. I understand the effort and time spent assembling materials to respond to a family’s needs. I also know that there is no one-size-fits-all coping solution. My hope is that Coping Space becomes a go-to place that provides comprehensive materials—digitally and in print—that you can use to help children, families, and friends cope with a life-changing diagnosis in childhood.

Visit Coping Space today at www.copingspace.org and be sure to follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.