Children with Cancer Inspire Massachusetts Woman to Relay

Allison Lincoff with summer campers

This article was written by Allison Lincoff of Wakefield, MA, in yellow, a member of the American Cancer Society, New England Division, College Leadership Team. She is a senior at Bridgewater State University, majoring in sociology and social welfare. It should be noted that the New England Division operates three week-long camps in New England every summer for children with cancer and their siblings.

- “If I go to heaven, I hope my mom and dad are not sad."
- "I hope the doctors and nurses can make my cancer go away.”
- "I wish that my sister wasn’t sick any more.”

These are just a few of many wishes that I heard during the wish boat ceremony at Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine, a retreat for children with life threatening illnesses and their families.

I learned about the camp fours years, and that June I attended my first camp session and knew immediately that it would be something I would be involved with for the rest of my life.

My first time walking through the three yellow doors, I was nervous about what I was walking into. Would it be sad? Would there be sick children everywhere?

It was the exact opposite. Even though that particular session was for children with cancer and their siblings, I couldn’t tell which children were the patients. The children were running around playing and just being kids. It was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen.

I continued to volunteer more and became an intern in the summer of 2010, which was an unforgettable experience. Each week I had the opportunity to work with different age groups including nursery, tot lot, 6-8's, 9-12's and the teens. The mission of each session is to give each child and adult the chance to feel special for a week. This is especially important for the siblings who really
benefit from the love and attention of the volunteers. Nothing is better than watching everyone cheering while someone climbs the rock-climbing wall, or when they all work together at the
challenge course to get across the Mohawk Walk. 

Even the parents have groups and when they aren’t in a group you can find them by the lake relaxing, on the challenge course, or even on the Newcomb court  trying to beat the teens,  a challenge they usually don't win!  Camp Sunshine understands that it is not just one person that is affected by an illness, but the whole family.

Each session brought new families from all over the country and the world, and with each family came a new story, struggle, strength, and hope that some day there would be a cure for their child’s illness. Camp Sunshine has became a second family to me, bringing people into my life who remind me that there is much more to life than the typical college student dramas.

Each time I plan a Relay For Life, I think of  each child that I met at Camp Sunshine.

I Relay for every sibling so that they always know how special and important they are. 

I Relay for every parent so that they are able to remain strong and make the right decisions for their children.

I Relay for all the children so that some day their cancer will be cured.