Remember to keep helping those in need
I’m writing this piece because I want to tell the University community to keep on helping people in need and to bring a greater awareness around those who, like us, are struggling and need support now more than ever. As president of the University chapter of the Childhood Leukemia Foundation, some members of the organization and I went to the Robert Wood Johnson University Children’s Hospital last Friday to carve pumpkins, an idea I had last year but never fully implemented. The children were ecstatic and with the carving kits, they were able to make the scariest pumpkins in New Brunswick.
Being that I had been treated at RWJ 15 years ago, it was somewhat of a flashback to go back. I am a childhood cancer survivor. I was diagnosed at the age of four with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. I was a patient of RWJ and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey — both in New Brunswick — and I was involved in many cancer fundraisers, walks and holiday gatherings.
During my initial cancer treatment, I was also featured in a publication for the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. I had the privilege to be treated for three years by many doctors, nurses and staff members who took a special interest in me. It is because of this experience that I try to live my life to the fullest each day. It is my firm belief that no one should take life for granted. As a matter of personal choice, I choose to learn something new every day. These people who took an interest in my family and I supported me through my treatment and that is why I continue to be involved today and support those who are in need of support. After leaving RWJ, I was reminded that the support from those around you and along the way truly does go a long way, even 15 years later.
Later, another member and I went to St. Peter’s Hospital to the Children’s Hospital, where we delivered an iPad and Wish Baskets donated by the national Childhood Leukemia Foundation located in Brick, N.J. The purpose of CLF is to support the families with children suffering from all kinds of cancer by raising money for various services, including Hope Binders, Wish Baskets and Hugs-U-Wear.
The Wish Baskets that I delivered personally with doctors are filled with age-appropriate items such as gift cards, iPods, games and personal-care items to help the children keep their mind off their cancer battle. Hope Binders are binders for the family to allow easy access to information regarding treatment, nutrition, prescriptions or financial matters for their child’s journey with cancer. Hugs-U-Wear provides patients with fashionable wigs created from human hair that are comfortable, unlike most wigs that cause itching and irritation. It is truly a great cause that I always try to let everyone know about, via word of mouth, Facebook, Twitter or even our own webpage.
Being a survivor of cancer and the president of the CLF has given me great experiences that I will continue beyond my years at the University. Once again I just want to remind the University community never to stop helping bigger organizations and larger-than-life causes to help those in need, whether it be children or adults.
Connor Montferrat is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and criminal justice. He is the president of the Childhood Leukemia Foundation and the Rutgers College Republicans.