Childhood Cancer Awareness Month


Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Approximately 1 in 285 children will develop cancer before reaching the age of 20.
Cancer remains the #1 cause of death resulting from a disease in children in the United
States. There are an estimated 300,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year
globally*. September marks the month to bring awareness to these statistics and to
shine a light on pediatric cancer.

Tu Nidito makes an impact on children who are diagnosed with a serious medical
condition. In 2021, 71% of the children that came to Tu Nidito for services had been
diagnosed with cancer. Through one-on-one support, those children and their families
are given support in developing coping and age appropriate communication techniques
and comfort from our Support Specialists.

This month, Tu Nidito has joined with other organizations across the nation by
symbolically placing gold bows throughout our grounds in recognition of this month’s
Childhood Cancer Awareness designation. We would like to share with you two
poignant stories of children that came to Tu Nidito searching for support and comfort
following their diagnosis.

"Cancer Doesn't Dictate our Lives."

A 6-year-old child came to Tu Nidito after relapsing for a third time with leukemia. After
taking immunotherapy, she was again going to school and everything seemed
well—until she relapsed for a fourth time at the age of 10 years old. At that point, she
needed a Bone Marrow Transplant. Tu Nidito’s Support Specialist has followed one-on-
one with this case and still provides support for the family including the donor of the
Bone Marrow, her brother. Despite the uncertainty and the fear, the family has gone
through, the mother doesn’t let this bring them down and shared inspiring words about
their story:

“We refused to let this cancer dictate how we were going to live. How our child is
going to live. We live life, you have to, you can’t let cancer or your child illness tell
you how to live your life.”

“We are going to continue going on trips, we are going to show her a great time! We
are making amazing beautiful memories with her and the family.”

We couldn’t have done this without Tu Nidito, without our Support Specialist that works
with my children. Knowing that whenever I needed support there is an organization
that helps us grieve through this process.

“Our child continues to do great. She is amazing and strong,

we get our strength from her.

HOPE

A 9-year old child came to Tu Nidito in December 2021 after being recently diagnosed with Leukemia. When the new year, 2022 started she began to work one-on-one with her Support Specialist. She decided she wanted to concentrate on ONE word for the new year. She chose the word HOPE. Celeene was then encouraged to write a poem using this word and what meaning it had to her.

For three consecutive years due to the pandemic and her medical condition, she was unable to attend school in person. She is now finally able to return to school as a 5th grader. During her most recent one-on-one session with her Support Specialist, she was given a list of words that described nature and she was asked to choose one that symbolized her life and feelings it evoked. She chose the word Flower, and explained:

Flowers start as a bud but then bloom into something new and beautiful. They are not afraid to let their colors show and they always show you the way towards happiness.

Tu Nidito continues to bring support and comfort to children going through cancer or any other serious medical condition. Our one-on-one Support Specialists are here to help ease this process and to remind them that they are not alone. Learn more information about how our support programs for serious medical conditions can help you and your family by visiting https://tunidito.org/support-for-families/serious-illness/

*https://curesearch.org/childhood-cancer-statistics

Tools for Handling Back-to-School Season While Grieving

Tools For Handling Back-to-School Season While Grieving.

After a long summer break, it can be challenging to return to a school routine. When you combine the element of grief, it can be particularly challenging for the entire family. Children and teens who are processing their own grief will likely find this change in their day-to-day activities overwhelming and with that experience increased anxiety. If you are a parent or caregiver of a grieving child or teen, the feeling of being overwhelmed might be familiar.

Tu Nidito offers one-on-one and group support twice every month to children and families going through a serious medical diagnosis or the death of a loved one. Each time, our Support Specialists are there to provide support and comfort in a warm and welcoming environment. 

Here are some tools we hope you find useful to practice at home during this back-to-school season:

1. Take care of yourself.

Any sort of activity while grieving might seem difficult, but any steps you can make to practice self care will make a difference. Children feel better supported and understood by a healthy adult.

2. Listen.

Be there and take the time to listen. By being open with your own experience of grief and sharing memories and stories, it will open the door for deeper communication. Even when they have nothing to say at a given point, remind them that you are there to listen should they want to share their feelings.

3. Create Your Own Little Nest.

 You can pick a spot in your home for you and your child or teen that feels comforting and safe. Take a moment after or before school to let them express and release heavy emotions should they arise. This practice can also be a great source of comfort on difficult days such as birthdays, holidays and anniversaries. 

4. Take it one day at a time.

When grieving, most of the intense parts of it take longer to overcome than one might think. Be patient with yourself and provide the same approach to your child or teen. Celebrate small achievements or progress made at school. These may include making a new acquaintance or praise from a teacher.

This adorable book explores a unique way to connect with your kiddos when they are away. For younger children, school is a big change from their daily routine at home. Tu Nidito’s “Little’s” group read this book during August. It can give them the courage and comfort when they feel heavy emotions during their grief in the school day.

We hope that you find these tools useful during this back-to-school season, and will serve as a reminder that you are not alone. 

Tu Nidito employs a trained Community Outreach Director who provides resources and education to the Southern Arizona community including school personnel, social services, and community organizations. We are here for our community. If you would like to arrange a workshop for your organization you can request it here. 

Full articles and more detail can be found by visiting these websites: 

https://nacg.org/resource-library/ 

https://grievingstudents.org/

Expressing Grief through Art

Expressing Grief Through Art

Art Room

Tu Nidito’s facilities offer a variety of ways to support youth in expressing themselves through play including a vast playground with swings, slides, a basketball court and play-house. Beyond this, we have specialized rooms including a Volcano Room for letting out big emotions through physical play; an Imagination Room for expressive play; and an Art Room that let’s kids and teens explore visual self-expression. 

Beyond these unique spaces, Tu Nidito’s support groups offer specialized curriculum to help children and teens acknowledge, understand, and process common emotions brought on by grief including sadness, guilt, anger, and uncertainty.  Recently, our program team and volunteers led an art activity that encouraged reflection about the special person in our life who died:

My grief is like…..

Kids and teens then created their own unique piece of art using colors that represent their feelings and special people. While some were bright and cheerful, others were darker and somber; each piece unique and expressive.

If you are looking for an activity to help process grief, this activity can easily be done from the comfort of your home using art supplies such as paper, crayons, or paint.

Tu Nidito is a place of comfort, hope, and support for children and families experiencing grief. Learn more about our services here or call (520) 322-9155.

Volunteer Appreciation Week

VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION WEEK

Volunteers are the pieces that complete our puzzle!

Every day we appreciate the dedication of Tu Nidito volunteers, but in honor of Volunteer Appreciation week April 17 – 23, we enjoyed showering them with some extra love! Our hard-working volunteers, more than 135 individuals, gift their time by providing a listening ear and supporting children and their families seeking comfort and a safe place to grieve the death of a loved one or a serious medical diagnosis. Our volunteers are quite literally heroes to Tu Nidito’s mission, serving as Group Facilitators, offering one-on-one support and providing critical behind-the-scenes support by assisting at events, and helping with office tasks and outreach. The impact is huge and their gift of time, heart, and dedication is what makes it possible for Tu Nidito to help more than 650 grieving children each year. Thank you, Tu Nidito Volunteers!

Tu Nidito performs as a puzzle with many intricate pieces. Volunteers are critical pieces of a very important mission: Ensuring No Child Grieves Alone!

Meet Two of Our Amazing Volunteers!

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As shared by Tu Nidito staff: “She brings such warmth and light to each group night. She is an inspiration to the other facilitators who work with her and especially to the children she works with. They love to hear her read to them in group the stories that help them understand their grief. And when it comes to free time, she dives right into whatever game or activity the kids want to play. Her smile and laughter is infectious and she helps bring hope and healing to all she comes in contact with at Tu Nidito.”

As shared by Tu Nidito staff: “Mariah is great at working with kids of all ages. She has a calming presence and is always willing to assist where needed. She embodies our mission outside of Tu Nidito through her clinical internship in the mental health field and by simply being herself. She is a huge asset to Tu Nidito and I can’t picture our groups without her!”

Be part of our Puzzle!

Last year more than 135 volunteers gifted a total of 2,500 hours of their time to Tu Nidito’s mission through group facilitation, one-on-one support, office support and event support.

If this mission speaks to you, we’d love to hear from you! Please complete a Volunteer Interest Form at www.tunidito.org/volunteer or schedule a tour with us today by calling (520) 322-9155.

Meet the 2022 Remarkable Moms

Meet the Moms

Tu Nidito’s 2022 Class of Remarkable Moms!

What is a Remarkable Mom?

A Tu Nidito Remarkable Mom is someone whose life and community contributions speak to the heart of Tu Nidito’s mission. Each year, a select group of mothers are celebrated among friends and family at Tu Nidito’s signature fundraising gala, The Remarkable Celebration, which raises essential funds to help ensure that no child grieves alone. As our community navigates unprecedented grief, Tu Nidito is able to serve and support Southern Arizona’s grieving children and families, thanks to the generosity of our REMARKABLE community.

This year, Tu Nidito continues its traditional Remarkable Celebration, bringing people together to celebrate Tu Nidito and Remarkable Moms from our community. 

The Remarkable Celebration: All You Need is Love is taking place Saturday, May 7, 2022 at Tucson Country Club, featuring dinner, dancing, entertainment, silent auction, special tributes, and of course, honoring of Tu Nidito’s 2022 Remarkable Moms, whose lives and community contributions speak to the heart of Tu Nidito’s mission and vision of ensuring no child grieves alone.

Learn more!

See our full list of event sponsors here

Without further ado, meet this year's Remarkable Mom Honorees!

Cristina Baena

Born and raised in Colombia, Cristina came to the United States at the age of 17 to learn English and eventually play collegiate golf for the University of Arizona. Today she and her two children Benjamin, 12, and Daniela, 9, are proud to call Tucson home. Never forgetting her roots and experiences growing up in a country devastated by war and turmoil, Cristina places exceptional value on helping others and giving back to our Tucson community; something she models for her children through dedicated volunteer work with organizations including Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, EasterSeals Blake Foundation, San Miguel High School, the American Heart Association and First Tee of Tucson. Citing motherhood as the most rewarding job of her life, Cristina has managed to balance an incredibly successful career; working her way up as the Partner and President of Employee Benefits division at Crest Insurance, where she leads a team of 65 of professionals across multiple states, many of whom benefit from Cristina’s passion to mentor, support and advocate on behalf of working mothers who are pursuing their careers, while never losing sight of their jobs as mothers. Through it all – motherhood, volunteering, and her professional career, Cristina always remains focused on following-through with her ultimate goal: helping others.

Make a donation to Tu Nidito in celebration of Cristina here.

Adiba Nelson

From an early age, Adiba’s mother told her that life is what you make it, a mantra that continues fueling her aspirations as a community advocate, published author and writer, performer, and as a mother to her daughter, Emory. Full of sass, spunk, beauty, and humor, 12-year-old Emory also has a rare form of cerebral palsy that makes it difficult to do things like walk, speak, brush her teeth and get dressed in the morning. As a single mom, Adiba spends much of her time ensuring that Emory has everything she needs. Whether it’s driving her to  therapy appointments, helping her in and out of her wheelchair, advocating for her health needs, or making sure she has the coolest new hair and shoes for the first day of school, Adiba makes it happen. Every day she leans into her mantra “life is what you make it” by choosing courage, faith, and resilience and showing up every day as her authentic self, with determination to make the world a better place for Emory and the global disabled community. So much so, that when she realized there weren’t any children’s books where Emory could see herself in the stories, Adiba wrote and published her first book, Meet Clarabelle Blue, and she has worked tirelessly to get it out into the world. Her second book, “Ain’t That A Mother” is currently available for pre-order, and will be available everywhere books are sold on May 3, 2022. Adiba is an amazing mother and advocate for Emory, and a remarkable advocate for all children in our community who need to be seen and heard!

Make a donation to Tu Nidito in celebration of Adiba here.

Beth Justice Cole

Together, Beth and her husband John have raised their blended family of six sons: Shawn, Dustin, Ben, Wes, Kyle and David. Loving and embracing every crazy, messy, noisy second of motherhood, Beth cites no greater joy in life than being a mom. Once their children were grown up and out of the house, Beth began volunteering with Tu Nidito where she credits learning great lessons about humanity, humility and grace; lessons that served as a catalyst for her obtaining both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work. Beth credits Tu Nidito for shaping her professional career as a social worker, a career that has provided her with the opportunity to give back and support so many individuals in our community. Recently retired, Beth now enjoys her full-time role as Nana to 15 grandchildren, embracing “mom” and “nana” as the two sweetest words she ever hears. Always keeping her family close to heart, Beth is the catalyst for starting an annual family tradition of adopting a family each Christmas in memory of her grandson, Sebastian, who died in 2014 in a tragic car accident. “This annual tradition is both a nod to the loss of our grandson, and an affirmation to the hope, faith, and healing that is possible,” Beth shares.

Make a donation to Tu Nidito in celebration of Beth here.

Beverley Tidwell

Beverley grew up on a dairy farm in the north of New Zealand. After becoming a registered nurse, she followed her aspirations to travel the world and left on a sailboat, and eventually arrived in the United States where she met her husband Stephen. Together they found their way to Southern Arizona to live closer to family and raise five children: Amy, William, Kevina, Brendan, and Alana. As a young family, they encountered what Beverley refers to as “circumcision of the heart” – when their 4-year-old son William was diagnosed with a brain tumor, setting in motion life-changing trials for their entire family. With his family by his side, William ensued a 7-year battle with cancer, including cranial surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and eventually palliative care, until he died at the age of 11. Seeking bereavement support, Beverley and family found support at Tu Nidito, a community of people who walked the road before and beside them. Loved deeply by his family, William’s loss is still genuinely felt in the Tidwell family, but Beverley has made it her personal mission to make life better for families whose children have cancer through her work as Executive Director of Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Southern Arizona. To this day, there are very few children in our community who have been diagnosed with cancer whose lives have not been touched by Beverley.

Make a donation to Tu Nidito in celebration of Beverley here.

Anita Rubio

For Anita, it’s always been in her heart to find something to be grateful for, even during life’s most challenging moments. For Anita, she is grateful for the gift of motherhood and watching her children Carys (15), Daniel (13) and Kyndra (10) grow into unique individuals. Likewise, seeing them come out of difficult times in a way where they thrive, has been one of the biggest challenges of motherhood, especially watching them endure heartbreak after their father died by suicide in 2019. Seeking out support for her children, Anita found Tu Nidito’s bereavement support groups for her family. Although she was hesitant to participate, Anita was determined to get her children the help they needed after such a traumatic loss. Before long, Anita became a dedicated participant, finding comfort and support during the darkest of day and over time, has become a beacon of hope to all new parents and caregivers who have walked through Tu Nidito’s doors. Having found strength from other grieving parents, especially other suicide survivors, Anita has made it a personal mission to help destigmatize suicide by helping to foster a safe, judgment-free space for her kids and many others in the community who are grieving a suicide death. Today, Anita can acknowledge that while life can be brutally hard, and sometimes really ugly, she has come to understand that there is deeper meaning behind it all; including hope that her children will continue finding the many things in life they have to be grateful for, most notably, each other.  

Make a donation to Tu Nidito in celebration of Anita here.