In celebration of National Cancer Survivor Month, Periwinkle is highlighting ways survivors strengthen the Periwinkle community of healing. Last week we introduced the upcoming series and are excited to share more about the Periwinkle Long Term Survivor Program.
The Periwinkle Long Term Survivor Program is for adults over the age of 18 who are pediatric cancer survivors and were treated at Texas Children’s Hospital. The program meets monthly to connect childhood cancer survivors in a social setting to grow in friendship and fellowship. From socials to baseball games to fundraising events and a fall retreat, the Long Term Survivors are all about giving back, but also about having fun!
What makes this group so unique is the survivors who span generations, experiences and treatments – all connected by their years of survivorship and love for Periwinkle. Some Periwinkle Long Term Survivors have been engaged with the program since it’s inception in 2006 while other survivors, like Kelli, just reunited with the Periwinkle community of healing she experienced in the late 90’s.
Kelli joined at the Periwinkle Long Term Survivor Program event at a Sugar Land Skeeters baseball game in June. She reconnected with Periwinkle after hearing about the Periwinkle Long Term Survivor Program at a recent visit with Dr. Dreyer at Texas Children’s Hospital.
When asked to reflect about her experience with The Periwinkle Foundation, Kelli shared,
“Camp Periwinkle gave me a group of people I could relate to in the essence of “I am not alone or all that different from anyone else”. Having people see my scar and ask “What happened?, then explaining “I had cancer” and them saying “OMG, are you okay now?” has become an everyday conversation.
Most show sympathy for my parents, but they do not realize that although no one would ever wish that on any family, it made my family stronger. Growing up as a cancer survivor made me appreciate all the little things and every major milestone in my life, from graduating college to rolling my first perfect game in bowling. Without the wonderful doctors at TCH and loving support of my amazing family, I would not have been able to share these experiences with anyone.” – Kelli
Kelli also shared with us one of her tattoos, explaining that the yellow snapdragons are her and her father’s favorite flowers, the five lady bugs represent her family, and the periwinkle flower represents Camp Periwinkle. Kelli serves as a wonderful reminder of the incredible impact doctors, friends, family and programs like Camp Periwinkle can make on future survivors. Kelli hopes to reconnect with The Periwinkle Foundation by attending the Periwinkle Long Term Survivor Retreat in the fall and maybe becoming a counselor at an upcoming Periwinkle camp!
In celebration of National Cancer Survivor Month, we celebrate with Long Term Survivors like Kelli the milestones and memories they have created,
“Reaching the milestone of Long Term Survivor has been amazing. Each year that goes by without a diagnosis is a blessing. I know that I have a chance of something else happening that can change my life again, but until that happens, I intend on enjoying and cherishing every moment I can with the people I love. Being able to reconnect with others like myself, allows me to make new friends and have new adventures. Sharing my thoughts and experiences with others who have only begun their journey can offer them hope for dreams fulfilled that they may not yet have.” – Kelli
Periwinkle values the opportunity to provide survivors opportunities to socially interact and connect with peers with similar experiences. If you are a pediatric cancer survivor over the age of 18 and were treated at Texas Children’s Hospital, or you know someone who is, please contact Meredith Beall at email@example.com to get connected with the Periwinkle Long Term Survivor Program.
To read more about what the Periwinkle Long Term Survivor Program was up to in 2017, check out the story below.