Saturday, July 23, 2005


Rainbow at Camp Esperanza

The definition of cancer the disease is Any of various malignant neoplasms characterized by the proliferation of anaplastic cells that tend to invade surrounding tissue and metastasize to new body sites. However, I like this one better: A pernicious, spreading evil. It is evil, and that is probably too kind a word.

I just had the pleasure of spending the last week at a camp for kids with or in remission from cancer, ages 7-15 (Camp Esperanza--which is spanish for Hope). Many are healthy and doing well. Many are currently in treatment, as evidenced by their bald heads. Still many others are off of treatment, but will forever bear the effects of the treatment it took to hopefully heal them so that they can live long and productive lives.

Cancer is cruel. Why does any child have to deal with myriad needle pokes, treatments, physical scarring, stunted growth, and the many other side effects? One girl who I just love--she's been to camp for 3 years now and in my cabin for 2, will somday have to undergo a hip replacement. Athletic by nature, she can no longer particpate due to her hip problems from chemo. Thankfully, she is in remission. That is minor compared to the scars some of these kids have.

We remembered 4 campers who have passed away over the past year. One was in my cabin her last 2 years she attended camp. She was an awesome girl who will always hold a place in my heart. We called her counselor #7 because she kept us in line (there are 6 counselors per cabin). Her presence was missed. After our remembrance ceremony the first night of camp, we had some rain (first time in my 4 years of going here for camp that it has rained). Then there was the most beautiful rainbow (see picture above--it's faint but look closely and you will see). We took that as a sign from K. and the others that have passed on. They were most definitely with us at camp this week and wanted to let us know that.

Some of the best stories from the week at camp involve boys and bodily functions. Go figure.

--One of the younger boys (8 or so) was in the bathroom. He came out and asked his counselor for help. Turns out the boy, whose mother is apparantly obsessive-compulsive about the teeth he loses, was sitting on the pot playing with his lose tooth. Oops, out it came and into the toilet it went. Where he had just gone #2. Well, he asked his counselor if he would get it out. The counselor donned some rubber gloves (which are apparantly on the list of things to bring for the boy cabins. Thankfully that's not the case for the girls) and fished around and found the prized tooth. It was removed, lysoled, and put into a ziploc baggy. The boy was told that he better be sure it makes it home and that his mom knows what it took for that tooth to get home. I think that counselor should get counselor of the year!!

--One of the older graduating boys (15) has a history of finding other boys' cabins to do his #2 business in. Secretly. And enjoys leaving his mark. So, this year his target was the 2nd youngest boy cabin. One day during nap time, he snuck in while the boys were sleeping. One little boy heard him and notified the counselors, who were on the patio meeting. The counselors then ambushed the guilty party, who took off out of the cabin. He was chased by a counselor with a super sonic water gun. Said counselor wasn't about to let him get away and then realized he was chasing this camper in nothing but his boxers.

OK, so it's not just the boys!
--My cabin consisted of 13-14 year old girls. They are a hoot--boy crazy, obsessed with how they look, but not at all girly-girly. One night, the counselors were meeting on the breezeway that seperates the 2 sides of the cabin while the girls were getting ready for bed. One girls opens the door and asks if there is any air freshener beacuse "three of us just took a dump and it stinks bad."

--This same girl was with us in the band-aid box getting some medicine. As we were about to leave, she said "Hurry, let's go. I've gotta fart. Haha-just kidding. Oops, I did fart when I laughed. Let's get out of here!" This was said loud and clear for anyone to hear. No modesty in this girl!

As much as I love this week spent at camp--it is one of my favorite times of the year, I hope the day comes that there no longer needs to be a camp for kids with cancer. I hope that the cures for these kids will some day be much simpler, sparing them the effects that many now have to live with. I hope that next year we don't have a need for a remembrance ceremony. I hope.

On another sad note about the evils of cancer, my friend's FIL (see July 8th entry) passed away this past Wednesday from pancreatic cancer. Rest in peace, B.


Jen L said...

Boys and bodily functions- that is a universal truth. My brother used to delight in making fart noises with his armpit at the dinner table. Drove Dad nuts. I was going to e-mail you, see how your week went. Welcome back!

Jen L

linda said...

Jen, your posts sometimes knock me over ~ so much emotion in one little capsule. You brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.

Lula said...

My boys like to fart in public places then ask me in a really loud voice if I can smell it. I try to give them the death ray glare but usually end up laughing my rear off. Great post Jen. I remember once where you said you weren't a great writer. You are. :) Cancer sucks.

Jennifer said...

lula, at least your boys aren't farting in public places and blaming it on their mom. Who is it who did that? :-p

And thanks. I hope I'm now at least a decent writer, since I am teaching it this year! It is easier when it's something that is heartfelt, vs. some dumb assignment for school.

JenL, I used to do the armpit thing to. I could also do it with my leg. Not sure how that worked...but it did.