On Thursday, January 18th, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia had their grand unveiling of their new Teen Cancer room, sponsored by Teen Cancer America. As a young cancer survivor, intern at CHOP, and of course, ambassador for Teen Cancer America, I had the honor and privilege of attending and speaking at the opening event. It was really special to see how many people came out to support the new space, hear people talk, and celebrate the creation of the specialized room. It began with a speech from Lamia, who spoke so passionately about her goals in creating the space and how supported she had been in her efforts. After a beautiful video which perfectly summarized Teen Cancer America’s mission narrated by Roger Daltrey, board member Howard Jaffe spoke. He, just like everyone else there was so passionate about creating a space dedicated to teens and young adults. Then I spoke, where I candidly shared my story and the need for such a space. Finally, Jordan Lerner, young cancer survivor and donor for the teen room spoke through a video. I was able to meet his parents, who shared his story with me.
Then I was able to actually visit the teen space. In it were care packages filled with iTunes gift cards, headphones, accessories for phones, books, socks, and more. As I helped assemble the care packages I couldn’t help but think how incredible it is that people are finally getting it. I met a couple of child life specialists at CHOP and I candidly asked them how they treated teens differently from children. And it gave me hope, that we are moving in a direction where there will be space and teams for teens, where they can feel like teens and not like children. As I talked to Lamia, Jordan’s parents, and Howard, we all realized that the simple idea of a space dedicated to teens is so easy to understand, but it is our responsibility to spread the word to others about how much their is a lack of attention to teenagers. I left feeling empowered and hopeful for a new and brighter future for teens with cancer. I am so grateful to be a part of all the progress and it was truly beautiful to see the passion that every worker had in doing what they could to make a difference.
- Hannah Lottenberg, TCA Survivor and CHOP Intern