But here’s the latest: As of last week, after much hemming and hawing, we switched Clio’s care over to Dana Farber / Children’s Hospital of Boston. All of her outpatient visits for chemo will now happen at Dana Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic — which, I’m sorry, is a really dumb name for a clinic. I know it’s funded by the Jimmy Fund, but it’s so weird to include the “fund” part in the name. Right?
Anyway. The reasons we switched are various and subtle, and I won’t get into them. But we agonized over the decision, and went back and forth on it a zillion times. We were in many ways very happy with where we were — we especially loved the small and intimate nature of the place, and the individual attention we got as a result — but in the end, there were one or two more “cons” than “pros,” and so we made the move.
In some ways I feel like, in teenage terms, we’ve dumped our slightly dorky but very sweet boyfriend for the captain of the football team. Dana Farber is one of the world’s leading cancer treatment centers, and Children’s Hospital is one of the top (if not the top) pediatric hospitals in the country. But we’re pretty sure he’s not an asshole. The captain of the football team, that is.
I have no idea if we made the right decision or not. (I guess there isn’t really a right or wrong decision…) But I do know this: Both times we have been to the Jimmy Fund Clinic, Clio has been far more animated, cheerful and at ease than she ever was at our old hospital’s clinic, where she already knew the doctors and child life staff.
And I think the reason is absurdly simple: the waiting area in the Jimmy Fund Clinic — and you do a lot of waiting when you’re at the clinic — is just more fun than the old one, which was very small and not particularly cheery.
At the Jimmy Fund Clinic, there’s a big play structure shaped like a boat, and lots of toys, and a big fish tank, and video games and a huge closet full of arts and crafts supplies there for the taking. And perhaps best of all, there are other kids with cancer. Lots of them.
The Jimmy Fund Clinic (Arggh! I hate having to write it over and over again — it’s starting to sound less dumb to me, and I refuse to accept that!) sees anywhere from 50 to 100 kids per day. Our old hospital’s clinic, just a handful. At one point, when we were mulling our decision, I asked Clio, “Would you like to meet more kids your age with cancer?”
“Yeah,” she said. “Where are they?”
So, yes. The clinic is, admittedly, one of the reasons we switched. Which I’m almost ashamed to admit, because it seems frivolous. But one of the hardest parts of this whole experience for me as a parent has been watching Clio suffer. Not just physically, but psychically. I see how the way she feels physically affects how she feels emotionally, and vice versa.
So if one of the benefits of changing hospitals is that Clio feels relaxed and happy and even looks forward to going to clinic — which she’s going to be doing a lot over the next two years — then I’d say it’s a pretty good benefit.
Tomorrow is going to be a verrrry long day there, actually. Clio’s scheduled to get two kinds of chemo, including Ara-C, the one that gave her fevers last time. Our new doctor thinks that it might be enough to pre-treat it with Tylenol, instead of steroids, as was ultimately done last time. So we’ll see how that goes. Meanwhile, she’ll need to be getting fluids all day to prevent bladder issues due to the other kind of chemo, Cytoxin.
Elsa is going to come and visit and hang out with Clio at some point during the day, which she’s very excited about, having never gotten to go to the clinic at the old place. And Clio is excited to show her around.
“It’s really fun, and has a lot more toys than the old place did,” she explained yesterday. “That’s why it’s called the Jimmy Fun Clinic, right Mommy?”
I told her that should be the name. It was much better than what it really was.
On another fun note, as many of you may have seen on my Facebook page, yesterday was “Elsa and Clio’s Sale with Lemonade and Yummy Stuff and Crafts to Buy Toys for Kids With Cancer.” A bunch of our friends and their kids helped out, we had a blast, managed not to get rained on (just barely) and raised over $300!
We’re going to donate the money to the child life program at our old hospital. Because the Jimmy Fund Clinic is plenty fun already.