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WI Families of Children With Cancer: Off to School; Off to Camp

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September 10, 2010

ROSHOLT, Wis. - Today, tomorrow and Sunday, families of children with cancer will take part in the 25th annual American Cancer Society Hozhoni weekend cancer camp. Hozhoni is a Navajo word that means "completed circle of harmony."

Greta Johnson, patient program specialist with the American Cancer Society, says childhood cancer affects the whole family.

"Cancer affects the entire family and that's why we really promote the family activities and, you know, we do not distinguish the child with cancer from his or her siblings."

Attendance at the camp, which is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Oshkosh Area and held at Lions Camp near Rosholt, has more than tripled since the first year, in 1986. Johnson says part of the reason for the popularity of the camp is the activities, which offer families a chance to come together through mutual support and understanding.

"They love the activities; it's just a weekend to get away and release and meet other families who are going through the same experience that they are."

Families who take part in the Hozhoni weekend have children at all stages of cancer. They find that workshops, family projects, cookout, and campfire skits help build personal strength and a sense of togetherness, Johnson notes.

The weekend is a combination of fun events and learning opportunities, he adds.

"By the parents talking about issues they are definitely better prepared, and understand what their child is going through. And we do bring in professionals to speak about various different topics too, so they have a chance to learn."

Johnson says the camp promotes better understanding of childhood cancer issues, increases each family member's ability to cope with the disease and its challenges, and helps improve communication between family members and health care providers.

More information is available about the camp at www.cancer.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI