Chai Blog: Penina’s Helping Hand Disney Trip
From the day I told my kids that my cancer had come back, a weighted cloud of anxiety has hung over our household. Although I have been doing well with chemotherapy and feeling more myself between treatments, I can tell that my kids, although still happy and well-adjusted, always are concerned for my well-being and shoulder an emotional load far heavier than anything any child should ever have to carry.
Penina’s Helping Hand, the branch of Chai Lifeline that cares for children whose parent has a serious illness, has been like a god-sent angel lifting some of that weight off my family. Through our wonderful, sweet, and caring case worker, Sarah Laszlo, Penina’s Helping Hand has allowed our family to have some fun and memorable times that help my husband and me distract our children from the scariness and uncertainty of my health.
The most recent opportunity that we had to benefit from Penina’s Helping Hand was gifted to us in the form of our children attending the annual Disney World trip. From the moment we left our children at the airport, the Chai Lifeline staff and volunteers did their utmost to ensure that our kids had the trip of a lifetime–and boy did they ever! My children absolutely loved their time away. They couldn’t stop talking about how wonderfully luxurious the hotel was, how comfortable the beds were, and how clear the images on the huge flat screen TVs were. My son loved the “down” day, when all the boys climbed into one of the hotel pools and had a five-hour water-basketball game. My daughter was in awe of the firework display at Magic Kingdom, when during the fireworks show, the Cinderella Castle was transformed into the various castles of all the different princesses using laser lights while at the same time playing the theme music of each princess. My kids were fighting over who would tell us what funny story–like the time when the group was at the Lion King Musical show, and the singers were performing “Oh I just Can’t Wait to Be King”. At the last moment, the singers stopped singing and shut off the music with the intention of having the audience sing the last little bit back to them. My kids thought it was hilarious when, instead, all that was heard was microphone feedback since no one in the audience sang back. And of course, my kids spent quite a few hours talking about the various rides they went on. They had such a good time in every theme park, but my kids’ absolute favorite was Universal Studios. They couldn’t get enough of the Harry Potter rides, and my daughter who is afraid of thrill rides actually had the nerve to go on a few. My kids arrived back in Toronto with Ziploc bags-full of junk food, close bonds forged with the staff and other children on the trip, and the happy fatigue that comes about when people come back from overnight camp.
The precious gift Chai Lifeline has given my family allowed my children to be happy, have fun, make friends, laugh, and do the carefree things that kids are supposed to do. I am eternally grateful that because of Penina’s Helping Hand’s Disney trip, my children were unburdened from that anxious, heavy load for a little while so that they could just be kids.
~ Fondly, A PHH Mom