holding parents so parents can hold their children
© 2008 The Brain Candy Project, All Rights Reserved
A VISION IS BORN
The Brain Candy Project was conceived on December 12th, 2006, when Cameron Allen, then 11 years old, was officially diagnosed with Anaplastic Astrocytoma, grade 3. Just days before, he had had a 12 hour tumor resection surgery. Three skilled neurosurgeons and their team at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN, removed about 90% of a peach-sized tumor. The large mass was wedged between his right thalamus and brain stem. Brain cancer is rare in children anyway (only about 2,000 new diagnoses per year in North America), but AA3 is even rarer, typically occurring in Caucasian men over the age of 45.
The oncologist imparted the horrible news to Cameron’s parents, and in the same breath, he informed them that there were no brain tumor support groups in the state. General cancer support groups, yes, but not exclusively pediatric, and not exclusively brain tumor centered. He said, “You’re on your own.”
Henry Allen, Cameron’s father, replied “No. No one is alone. There will be - and not only a support group, but a support system for parents living in the hospital with their children as they recover from brain cancer, or any other brain trauma.” The vision came in that moment, full-force and complete.
SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS… AND HARD FLOORS
For the next two months, Henry slept on the floor of Cameron’s hospital room. It was that or the horrible chair that was provided in the room. He learned, first-hand, that most hospitals are severely limited in support services for parents living in hospitals with their children. He learned that what is referred to as food in most hospitals is horribly lacking in nutrition, both for parents and, what’s more important, children with cancer. Luckily, the hospital had a kitchenette in the parent lounge, so Henry prepared most of Cameron’s meals himself.
PARENT CARE IS PATIENT CARE
While some hospitals certainly do better than others, the consensus is that it is never enough. The Brain Candy Project picks up where hospitals must leave off, in terms of
in-house parent care. Parent care is patient care, when it comes to kids who are critically ill. They look to their parents for how to react, how to heal, and how to cope.
THE CANDY MAN CAN
“Eye candy” is defined as something that is easy on the eyes. Thus, Brain Candy, as it related to this project, relieves the minds of parents so that they are free to focus solely on the healing of their children.
Our name is partially a nod to Cameron himself. When Cameron was very small, and not yet able to quite pronounce his name, he referred to himself as “Candy.” When he got a little older, and people would ask him his name, he would say, “Cameron, but the kids call me Candy Man.”
THE VISION IS REALIZED
By August, 2007, with the help of The Foundation Network, The Brain Candy Project was approved as a 501(c)(3), Non-profit organization, under the umbrella of The Congressional District Programs. CDP’s programs, including The Brain Candy Project, are monitored by the National Heritage Foundation- a Four-Star Charity, as evaluated by the Charity Navigator - a renowned national charity watchdog group.
THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE
No one is alone. The Brain Candy Project is making a difference in Minnesota, yet there are parents sleeping on floors of hospitals everywhere in the world. We are developing a template that can be easily replicated in any hospital, in any community, anywhere in the world. Partnering with individuals and organizations like you, the spectrum of our reach is infinite. We are deeply grateful for your support.
The Brain Candy Project will partner with other non-profits, private businesses, individuals and corporations to provide support at no cost to our families.
The Brain Candy Project strives to be a green company, using products and practices that are earth-friendly.
For more information, or to make a tax deductible gift
please contact Faith Whelan.