Mr. Monkey and Elf – A Story from Pathways

A Tu Nidito Support Specialist has been working with an 11-year-old client who has a congenital heart disease. 

She has been struggling wearing her oxygen mask and tank for a couple of months now. During one visit, though, our Support Specialist introduced her to Mr. Monkey and Elf, pictured left. 

Mr. Monkey and Elf are the best of friends, and Elf helps take care of Mr. Monkey, who has a congenital heart disease just like the 11-year-old client. Mr. Monkey has also been struggling with wearing his oxygen tank and has to go to the hospital because of it. 

Elf always asks Mr. Monkey why he doesn’t wear his oxygen tank, and Mr. Monkey never shares why, he just ignores Elf. This makes Elf frustrated and sad because all Elf wants is to keep Mr. Monkey healthy by wearing his oxygen tank. 

Our Support Specialist had the client draw on Mr. Monkey what she believes Mr. Monkey feels inside that he doesn’t share with Elf. She drew a broken heart as well as an oxygen tank for Mr. Monkey. 

Our Support Specialist asked the client why she thinks Mr. Monkey doesn’t wear his oxygen tank. She replied, she thinks he doesn’t wear it because he is embarrassed to wear it in front of other people. He is embarrassed of what other people might think or say about him. Our Support Specialist asked the client if she felt like Mr. Monkey too. She said yes. 

Elf explained to the client and Mr. Monkey that they shouldn’t feel embarrassed about wearing their oxygen tank because it’s what helps keep them alive and healthy and that if people have questions, and they are comfortable answering them, they can tell people why they have to wear their oxygen tank.

Elf then asked Mr. Monkey if it would be helpful for Mr. Monkey to wear his oxygen tank if after every successful day/night, he would get a sticker the next day as a reward. Mr. Monkey loved the idea and asked the client if she would want to do this too, and she said yes. The Patient asked our Support Specialist what happens when she gets 100 stickers. The Support Specialist said maybe after 100 stickers, the client’s parents could give her a prize such as ice-cream or a toy.

The client and Mr. Monkey picked out their stickers from the art room and said they would try this out in hopes that this would help them wear their oxygen tanks more often.

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.


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


My Tu Nidito Story: Pam Fick

My Tu Nidito Story: Pam Fick

Celebrating 25 Years of Comfort, Hope & Support

February 2021

If there’s anything we need more of in 2021, it’s stories that connect us and bring warmth to our hearts. In celebration of Tu Nidito’s 25th anniversary, we’ll be hosting interviews here on the Tu Nidito Blog highlighting some of the amazing members of our community. To kick off this special segment, we’ll hear from Pam Fick, an alumna of our bereavement program and current volunteer group facilitator.

What’s your name and where are you from?

My name is Pam Fick and I have lived here in Tucson for 33 years so this is home. I have also lived in Michigan, Kentucky, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Tell us how you first became involved with Tu Nidito!

I am a nurse and currently work as nursing faculty at the University of Arizona College of Nursing for our accelerated Master’s Entry Program. I am also in school to obtain my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.  I am married to my husband (22 years this March) and have a son who is 12. We have a terrier-mutt named Jack and an African tortoise named Mack.

I became involved with Tu Nidito when we participated as a family after the death of my mother-in-law.  I was so impressed with the organization and the amazing work that goes into supporting the kids I asked about volunteering after we closed.

What is your role as a volunteer?

I am an English-Speaking Adult Group Facilitator. Just as Littles, Middles and Teens have peer-to-peer support groups, caregivers and parents need a similar space to work through their grief. I have worked with a few different Adult Groups.

Currently, I facilitate a support group for adults. The families that I work with are grieving the serious diagnosis of a parent. Unfortunately, there are times when these families experience the death of that parent. I have more recently started to facilitate support groups for these newly bereaved families as well. It has been so great being a part of these groups, even through Zoom.

What makes you want to volunteer in this way?

Tu Nidito is a special place with amazing people all supporting one another through some very difficult times. Although the circumstances that bring us to Tu Nidito are very sad, there is so much joy that comes from support groups. Each family member has a space to share their story in a meaningful way.

The adult participants are often wearing many hats and doing so many things; giving them a place where they can just focus on themselves and their kids for an hour is really powerful. It’s touching to hear stories of their special people and also how they are working through their own grief process. There are many tears but there are also many smiles and laughter.  Also, seeing the participants lift one another up and support one another is awesome. It’s truly a privilege to be part of the groups.

Tell us a story about a memorable interaction or experience you had at Tu Nidito.

I once had to “close” from one of my adult groups because I had to switch which days I volunteer due to my schedule. The kindness and comments from the participants about how I impacted them during my time with the group were so touching.

 I felt honored to be a part of what they share during the group and they were telling me how much I touched them! It made me realize the impact we have as volunteers and that just being present and holding space for people can really make such a difference.

I also have many great memories of bringing my son when we attended as a family. He would always connect with the volunteers and have so much fun-all while feeling safe to share feelings. It really helped him process and navigate his grief.

Pam pictured with her son and husband

Thank you, Pam, for sharing your Tu Nidito Story! To learn more about the programs Pam participated in and now facilitates, click here.

A Tu Nidito Family’s Story of Grief and Love

A Tu Nidito Family's story of Grief and love

Guest Writers: The Rubio Family

Like many holidays and milestones, Father’s Day can be tricky. For some, it brings a day of celebration and togetherness; for others, a poignant reminder of loss and grief. However you are heading into this weekend, we would like to invite you to express your feelings in a way that may be new to you. As a family, or individually, tell your story. Your story may be marked by beauty, pain, hope, sadness… It can be a glimpse of a moment, a feeling, or a whole lifetime. Whatever you write is worth expressing. Storytelling can happen through writing, drawing, or other art forms. You can choose to keep it to yourself, or share it with others. 

As an inspiring example to begin our storytelling this Father’s Day,  a Tu Nidito family is sharing about their personal grief journey. For the first time, Anita and her three children are spending this Father’s Day without their dad, Aaron. Thank you, Rubio family, for opening your hearts and sharing your story.

(Left to Right) Aaron, Carys (13), Daniel (11), Kyndra (8)
Drawing by Kyndra

My two oldest children, Carys and Daniel, have their father’s green eyes. Daniel has his dad’s mannerisms to the point where some of my family members still slip up and call him “Aaron” – his dad’s name. They were buddies. Even our youngest, Kyndra Joy, can impersonate some of her dad’s facial expressions like nobody else. All three of them have an amazing sense of humor that I absolutely love.

Last Father’s Day, their first gift to their “Dada” was a potato they’d drawn a silly face on and meticulously wrapped. It was followed by a t-shirt that read, “My favorite people call me Dad”. I’m not sure which gift Aaron loved more. Unbeknownst to us, that Father’s Day week would be the last time we would all live together with any semblance of “normalcy”. He and I had our struggles until, heartbreakingly, Aaron died by suicide only a few months later. 

Needless to say that for nearly the last 12 months, I have looked ahead to the month of June with a bit of a knot in my stomach. There has been uncertainty about how to approach this year – the kids’ first Father’s Day since their dad died. For us, however, there has been nothing more healing than sitting together sharing memories, whether that meant laughing together, crying together, or both. It is exactly why we have found the services at Tu Nidito to be so beneficial. The children and I each have a place there where we can speak Aaron’s name and dedicate some time to share special memories, talk about how our present lives are affected, and even consider things that may come up in the future. Most kids seem to recoil from the notion that there is anything that makes them too different from their peers. Losing a father to suicide is certainly not something that any of their school friends or family members could directly relate to. I credit this organization with giving my kids, and many like them, a safe place to identify and speak up about their true thoughts and feelings, which has played such a vital role in our family’s healthy healing over the many months we have been with them.

Carys, 13 years old

My dad and I shared a love for birds. For Christmas in 2018 I got a cardinal puzzle. It was 3-D, but the instructions were vague and unclear. My dad was very interested in this puzzle and helped me by looking it up online. He told me where each piece could go. We finished it and left it out for everyone to see. We were proud of it. My dad’s name was Aaron. He was a good dad, and I loved him.

Daniel, 11 years old

One of the things I miss most was Dad’s food. He made the best mac and cheese, that stuff was legendary and no other mac and cheese maker could compare. His super good meal was his biscuits and gravy; spicy and peppery, and the biscuits were perfection. And when he made chilaquiles, he would always let me cut tortillas into chip shapes before he fried them.

My dad was a great father, but after he died of suicide lots of things changed. I started to feel left out because I am the only boy in my family now. I also started wishing for him back, and I would try and remember what fun things we did when we were together. I still remember the silly reasons why he would scold us. Also I still remember the great foods he would make. But most importantly, he cared for me and my family.

Kyndra, 8 years old

My dad was so fun! His name was Aaron. He loved hound dogs, so we had three. Every night when I said goodnight, Dada would give me lots of high fives before giving me a poke in the belly. And the memory that keeps playing in my head is his goofy laugh, a really adorable laugh that lit up his whole face!

After hearing each of my children share some of their favorite memories about their father, we all sat surrounded by a flood of emotions. We still have a long road ahead of us as we experience many other firsts in life without him, but I am also confident that they- that we- will all be ok. As a mom that is doing my best to be present with them every day, I am also so proud of them for sitting with the pain long enough to make it to whatever is on the other side of it. I’ve been surprised a number of times at how such intense pain can actually be turned to thankfulness and joy. Of course they will never forget their father, that loss will forever be with them, but likewise, they will never forget these and other very special memories of him. For those close to our family, I would even reassure them that they should not be afraid to speak Aaron’s name to us, since he is never far from our thoughts anyway. We have all learned to press into our faith this year, embrace our own journey, and we have grown closer as a family than I ever knew possible.

– Anita Rubio

The following are examples of books that may be helpful for a child or teen that is grieving the death of a fatherly figure in their life. Each of these are available for purchase on Amazon. If you’re interested in checking out other reading materials related to grief from our library, give us a call at (520)-322-9155.

For Littles and Younger Middles (Ages 3.5 – 10):

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel Books, Penguin, 2010)
Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley
Knock Knock My Father’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty
The Blue Roses by Linda Boyden
The Grandad Tree by Trish Cooke

For Older Middles and Teens (Ages 11-18):

Rebound by Kwame Alexander with illustrations by Dawud Anyabwile (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018)
Mama’s Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird by Jean Little
Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schroeder
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (Dutton, 2017)

If you have questions about Tu Nidito’s services or need support following a medical diagnosis or death of a loved one, please contact us. 

La historia de Pena y Amor Por una familia de Tu Nidito

La familia Rubio

Como muchas festividades y metas, el Día del Padre puede ser difícil. Para algunos, trae un día de celebración y unión; Para otros, un doloroso recuerdo de perdida y duelo. Mientras te aproximas a este fin de semana, queremos invitarte a expresar tus emociones de una manera que puede ser nueva para ti. Como familia o como individuo, dinos tu historia. Tu historia puede estar marcada por hermosura, dolor, esperanza, tristeza… Puede ser un vistazo a un momento, un sentimiento o toda una vida. Lo que sea que escribas vale la pena expresarlo. Un cuentacuentos puede ser hecho mediante la escritura, dibujo u otras formas de arte. Puedes escoger quedártelo para ti mismo o compartirlo con otros.

Como un ejemplo inspirador para comenzar nuestra narración de cuentos este Día del Padre, le preguntamos a una familia de Tu Nidito que nos contaran su historia. Por primera vez, Anita y sus tres hijos estarán pasando el Día del Padre sin su papá, Aaron. Gracias a la familia Rubio por contarnos su historia.

(Izquierda a derecha) Aaron, Carys (13), Daniel (11), Kyndra (8)
Arte por Kyndra

Mis dos hijos mas grandes, Carys y Daniel, tienen los ojos verdes como su papá. Daniel tiene los gestos de su papá al punto que algunos familiares algunas veces le llaman “Aaron”- el nombre de su papá. Eran muy amigos. Incluso nuestra mas pequeña, Kyndra Joy, puede personificar algunos de los gestos faciales de su papá como nadie mas puede. Los tres tiene un sentido del humor que absolutamente amo.

El ultimo Día del Padre, el primer regalo para su “Dada” fue una papa en la cual habían dibujado una cara chistosa y que envolvieron meticulosamente. Fue seguida por una camiseta que decía “Mis personas favoritas me llaman Papá”. No estoy muy segura cual regalo le gusto mas a Aaron. Desconocido para nosotros, esa semana del Día del Padre seria la ultima vez que todos viviríamos juntos con una apariencia de “normalidad”. El y yo tuvimos nuestras dificultades hasta que, lamentablemente, Aaron murió por suicidio solo unos meses después. No hace falta decir que, por los últimos 12 meses, he estado esperando por el mes de Junio con un nudo en el estomago. Ha habido mucha incertidumbre acerca de lo que nos espera este año-Los niños en su primer Día del Padre desde que su papá murió. Para nosotros, sin embargo, no ha habido nada mas sanador que sentarnos juntos a compartir recuerdos, aun si eso significaba reír juntos, llorar juntos o ambos. Es exactamente el porque hemos encontrado los servicios de Tu Nidito tan benéficos. Los niños y yo tenemos un lugar donde podemos hablar de Aaron y dedicar tiempo para compartir momentos especiales, hablar de como nuestras vidas en el presente están afectadas e incluso considerar las cosas que nos esperan en el futuro.

La mayoría de los niños parecen retroceder ante la idea de que hay algo que los hace demasiado diferentes de sus compañeros. Perder a un padre por suicidio no es ciertamente algo que sus compañeros de escuela o familiares se pueden relacionar directamente. Le doy crédito a esta organización por darle a mis hijos y a muchos como ellos, un lugar seguro donde se pueden identificar y hablar acerca de sus verdaderos pensamientos y emociones, lo que ha jugado un rol vital en la sanación de nuestra familia en los muchos meses que hemos estado con ellos.

Carys, 13 años

Mi Papá y yo compartíamos el amor por los pájaros. Para Navidad en el 2018 agarre un rompecabezas de un Cardinal. Era en 3-D pero las instrucciones eran vagas y no muy claras. Mi Papá estaba muy interesado en el rompecabezas y me ayudo a buscarlo en el internet. El me dijo donde iba cada pieza. Lo terminamos y lo dejamos afuera para que todos lo vieran. Estábamos muy orgullosos de el. El nombre de mi Papá era Aaron. El era un buen padre y lo amaba.

Daniel, 11 años

Una de las cosas que mas extraño es la comida de mi Papá. El hacia los mejores macarrones con queso, esos eran legendarios y ninguna otra persona que hiciera macarrones se pudiera comparar. Su súper comida era los bísquets y salsa gravy; picosos y con mucha pimienta y los bísquets eran perfectos. Y cuando hacia chilaquiles, siempre me dejaba cortar las tortillas en forma de totopos antes de freírlos.

Mi Papá era un gran papá, pero después de que murió por suicidio, muchas cosas cambiaron. Empecé a sentirme fuera de lugar porque soy el único hombre en mi casa ahora. También empecé a desear que el regresara, y trato de recordar que cosas divertidas hicimos cuando estábamos juntos. Todavía recuerdo las razones por las que el nos regañaba. También recuerdo las grandes comidas que el solía hacer. Pero lo mas importante es que el cuidaba de mi y de mi familia.

Kyndra, 8 años

Mi Papá era muy divertido! Su nombre era Aaron. A el le encantaban los perros Hound, teníamos tres. Cada noche, cuando decía buenas noches, mi Dada y yo la chocábamos mucho antes de que diera un piquete en la panza. Y el recuerdo que sigue tocando en mi cabeza es su risa disparatada, una risa muy adorable que iluminaba toda su cara!

Después que cada uno de mis hijos terminaron de compartir sus recuerdos favoritos acerca de su padre, todos nos sentamos rodeados de muchas emociones. Todavía tenemos un gran camino por delante mientras experimentamos muchos “primeros” en nuestras vidas sin el, pero estoy segura que ellos-que nosotros- estaremos bien. Como Mamá se que estoy haciendo lo mejor por estar presente para ellos cada día, estoy orgullosa de ellos por sentarse con su dolor por un largo tiempo para lograr ir a lo que sea que este del otro lado. Muchas veces me he sorprendido de cómo un dolor tan intenso puede convertirse en agradecimiento y alegría. Por supuesto, nunca olvidarán a su padre, esa pérdida siempre estará con ellos, pero del mismo modo, nunca olvidarán estos y otros recuerdos muy especiales de él. Para aquellos cercanos a nuestra familia, incluso les aseguro que no deben tener miedo de decirnos el nombre de Aaron, ya que de todos modos nunca está lejos de nuestros pensamientos. Todos hemos aprendido a presionar en nuestra fe este año, abrazar nuestro propio viaje, y nos hemos convertido en una familia más cercana de lo que nunca creí posible.

– Anita Rubio

Los siguientes recursos pueden ser de gran utilidad para sus niños y adolescentes que están pasando por el duelo de la muerte de una figura paterna en sus vidas. Si está interesado en ver otros materiales para leer relacionados con duelo, nos puede llamar al 520-322-9155.

Si tiene preguntas acerca de los servicios de Tu Nidito o necesita apoyo después del diagnostico de una enfermedad medica seria o después de una muerte de un ser querido, por favor contáctenos.