No Family Fights Pediatric Cancer Alone
Why Children with Cancer
“You have cancer.” These are the words that 15,780 children in the U.S. will hear each year, according to The National Cancer Institute. 43 kids per day, two young souls per hour, will begin fighting for their life. Each year, 1,960 children will lose this battle. Amongst the survivors, 60% will face life-long severe side effects, including amputation and secondary cancers. The psychological stress of having cancer can affect a person’s overall health and ability to cope with the disease. It invokes feelings of fear, uncertainty, and vulnerability. The treatment of cancer can be as brutal as cancer itself. Simply put, battling cancer is war. And childhood cancer is a uniquely tragic war because the battlefield is the body of a child. For many children, this is the first time they have faced adversity in life. There is a lack of knowledge to overcome challenges, and they can’t do it alone. One Summit summons the bravest and strongest reinforcements for the war against childhood cancer, the Navy SEALs.
Why Navy SEALs
Becoming a Navy SEAL requires candidates to overcome near-insurmountable obstacles. The SEAL program is the toughest military training in the world and tests an individual’s physical endurance, mental tenacity, and ability to work as part of a team. SEAL training pushes candidates to the limit, and beyond, to ensure they have the core values necessary to succeed in the most demanding conditions and against all odds. Approximately 80% will quit during training. The candidates who can overcome these challenges and become Navy SEALs understand the will to keep fighting, even after their bodies and minds told them to quit.
If knocked down, I will get back up every time. I am never out of the fight.
Experiential Learning with Navy SEALs
Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience. Sir Richard Branson, a successful English businessman, states: “you don’t learn to walk by following rules, you learn by doing, and by falling over.” One Summit believes learning by doing is the most effective way of gaining and sustaining fundamental skills. Experiential Learning produces demonstrable mindset shifts, which is paramount in helping children gain the resilience necessary to battle cancer. As the APA states, resilience is a skill that can be learned and developed in anyone. Therefore, One Summit has developed The Climb for Courage that allows children to achieve resilience through the combination of experiential learning and a U.S. Navy SEAL mentor.
A study conducted by Lisa Rankin M.D. revealed that “every time you tell your story and someone else who cares bears witness to it, you turn off the body’s stress response, flipping off toxic stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and flipping on relaxation responses that release healing hormones likes oxytocin, dopamine, nitric oxide, and endorphins. Not only does this turn on the body’s innate self-repair mechanisms and function as preventative medicine – or treatment if you’re sick. It also relaxes your nervous system and helps heal your mind of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, and feelings of disconnection.” Autobiographical Storytelling can have a lasting impact on a person’s psychoological and physical health. Resilience is strengthened by recognizing that we are all experts in our own lives and we all have something to share with others. As Sherry Hamby, Ph.D. states “what’s the difference between someone who has achieved resilience and someone who has not? One important difference is a sense of well-being. People who have found their voice shared their story, and reaffirmed their values often find a sense of peace and hopefulness that they did not have before.” We are currently building our “Stories Summit” an on-line platform for story sharing. This platform will allow our community of pediatric cancer families to share their stories as a means of building connectivity and resilience and enhancing their emotional well-being overall.
At One Summit, we understand that authentic connections and relationships contribute to being resilient. Social connection is one of our fundamental human needs. Emma Seppala, Ph.D., states that social connection improves physical health and mental and emotional well-being. According to Seppala, strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity, strengthens your immune system, helps you recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen your life. People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. One Summit hosts community events throughout the year to build a safe space for children and families to come together, have fun, and be part of a caring community. These families share the commonality of fighting a deadly disease. However, we build a space where kids can be kids, and the parents can connect, share experiences, and inspire one another.