Program empowers children with family members battling cancer

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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) -- Battling cancer can be hard on patients, and their support system. For the youngest members of the support team, there's a program at Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wisconsin, that allows them to recognize their feelings and feel more empowered about how they can help.

"Children's Lives Include Moments of Bravery" also known as 'CLIMB,' is a simple phrase turned acronym that aims to sort out some complicated feelings.

"When a child finds out that their parent has cancer, the child can start to develop feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, incompetence, and sometimes even depression," Stacy Brise, a registered nurse with Marshfield Clinic explained.

That's why staff at Marshfield Clinic, walk family members through every step of the cancer-fighting process.

"This can help them feel empowered, and identify more readily with that parent and with the family unit as a whole," according to Brise.

A team of nurses and psychologists work with children and grandchildren between the ages of 5 and 12-years-old, free of charge.

Brise said, "We actually show them exactly how their parent would be treated when they come in for a chemotherapy treatment or a radiation treatment. So, they actually come in, we take their vital signs, ask them all about their symptoms and if they're having any problems."

Classes are offered throughout the year, one night a week for six weeks.

But, members of the CLIMB team said after just one session, the changes are immediate.

"What we find, is the benefit is huge. You go from somebody who maybe had questions they didn't know who to ask, or who to bring it up to, to having a comfortable safe place to do that. And, a format where we can actually let them experience what their adult is experiencing and I think that knowledge is powerful to them," oncologist social worker, Kris Tarter said.

Read the original version of this article at wsaw.com.