Teaching our Children HOPE and OPTIMISM March 13 2014, 0 Comments

Cancer and Hope Given that this time of year can be a difficult transition time for many of us, I wanted to share this inspiring story of hope and optimism from one of our partner organizations, The Priyanka Foundation.

I recently learned the average 4 year old laughs 400X a day, and the 40 year old?  Take 2 zeroes off that number: only 4 laughs a day.  It’s not surprising  - kids for the most part are happy, resilient, innocent and silly.  That’s why we love being around them - they are the perfect antidote to the daily stresses, helping us let loose and be more playful.

What happens, though, when it gets difficult for our children – physical illness, bullying or any number of setbacks (which can make us as parents feel extremely helpless) – how do you maintain that sense of hope, joy, and optimism?

I recently sat down with Leela Rao, the founder of The Priyanka Foundation – one of Tumblewalla’s partner organizations, providing child-life services to hospitalized kids in developing countries, to ask her this question. Leela relayed a story to me that I wanted to share as I felt it was an inspiring model on how to teach my own son resilience and hope.

Leela’s daughter Priyanka was going to be in the isolation unit at the Hospital for intensive treatment for her Leukemia.  She really wanted a laptop to take with her to play games or write notes to combat any potential onset of boredom .  Instead of immediately giving into her wishes (which as a parent I think would be our default response), Leela realized that the laptop would only bring fleeting enjoyment and prompted her daughter to think about how she could raise the necessary money to buy one herself.

How does one raise money to buy a laptop in the confines of an isolation room at a Hospital? 

Mother and daughter came up with the idea of crafting beaded jewelry to sell at the Hospital gift shop to raise money for Priyanka’s laptop.  Leela would buy the beads and bring them back to her Hospital room while her daughter would string them together to make the jewelry.

Priyanka always wanted to be apprised of updates – how much money did she make, how many necklaces did she sell – always one step closer to this goal of getting her laptop.  She didn’t give up hope – working towards this goal gave her positivity and strength.  Instead of focusing on the pain of her situation, she was determined each day to make more necklaces to secure that elusive laptop.

Eventually, due to Priyanka’s worsening condition, Leela took over stringing the necklaces  - however, Priyanka never gave up – always asking about who bought the necklaces and how many she sold.  She showed remarkable resilience and hope.

In the end before she passed away, Priyanka made over $300+ with her necklaces – an accomplishment that brought a smile and great pride to both mother and daughter.  Priyanka never stopped making, asking, and striving for her goals even when she barely had any strength left – she had a strong passion for life and her mother was able to instill a sense of optimism and hope with the necklace project.

I always think of this story as an example of finding joy & laughter, and maintaining hope – despite what the universe sends our way.

The Priyanka Foundation started by Leela Rao and Nihal Bhakta, is in loving memory of Priyanka Bhakta who passed away from cancer. One of her goals was to help similar patients in India, and since her passing we have made it our goal to make hospital patients stays more at home.  To learn more, please visit http://www.thepriyankafoundation.org.
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