Legacy Dolls help kids understand cancer treatments
Parents face many challenges when their child receives a cancer diagnosis. One of the first is explaining it.
The Child Life Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital tries to make that process easier.
“Our job really is to partner with parents and help them find the words to talk to their children and answer these questions,” said Child Life specialist Ashley Carr.
“Child speak,” or explaining a concept using simple words and images a child will understand, is one of those tools.
“Our goal really is to meet a child where they are,” Carr said. “So for a 4-year-old we may explain the hospital and even their diagnosis in a very different way than we would explain it to a 14-year-old and even a 19-year-old.”
Another option is the Legacy Doll. Each Child Life specialist uses one of the specially-designed educational toys to help patients understand what they will see and experience.
“Often times our patients don’t have any experience with being sedated or having an actual procedure completed. And so for us, our job is to come in and bring this doll and the equipment that they’ll see when they’re in the operating room,” Carr said.
It gives the patients a hands-on lesson in what they’ll go through before it happens.
“At the root of any child, they learn in their environment through exploring it, communication, through play,” Carr said.
The dolls also provide a natural way for children to express their feelings.
“We often will kind of play through what kind of plan do they want to make. Do they want to hold mom or dad’s hand? Do they want to read a book while this happens? So they’ll a lot of times tell us what they’re feeling through the doll more so than they will about themselves,” Carr said.
Families sent to St. Jude never receive a bill, so they can focus on their child’s health. Your support for the hospital helps make that happen and ensure programs like Child Life are available.
“Our goal always is to make sure they know what’s happening. That they have the information they need to get to experience still being a child and develop while they’re here, but also deal with the negative impact of having a diagnosis like cancer,” Carr said.
In Tennessee, tickets are available online, by phone at 1-800-750-6962 or at Regions Bank locations in Tennessee. Georgia residents can purchase tickets by phone or at a Regions Bank location in Tennessee.
Each ticket costs $100. A limited number of tickets are available and the past two giveaways have sold out early.
The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is one of the largest single-event fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. It generates more than $290 million for the research and treatment of childhood cancer.