Support Groups and Other Programs

The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology team at Floating Hospital for Children in Boston coordinates a number of programs and groups to provide hope and support for families who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Please read below to learn about some of our major services.

KICS (Kids in Chemotherapy and Their Students) is a program that was created in partnership with Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM). Each 1st year medical student at TUSM is paired with a child who is undergoing cancer treatment at Floating Hospital. The KICS group meets twice a month with guidance from the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology social worker. The KICS group also organizes annual field trips, holiday parties and a dinner. The medical students and their patient partners truly develop lasting relationships. The students have attended patients’ weddings, gone on family trips to Disney World and have maintained lifelong friendships.

Medical play is used to help your child become more familiar with the hospital surroundings and to cope with his or her healthcare experiences. This type of play helps your child process fears, anxieties and other reactions. It’s also an opportunity for us to clarify any questions or misunderstandings about the hospital or treatment.

Our team brings Music Therapy into the treatment plans for many of our patients. Funded by Lucy’s Love Bus, licensed music therapist April Buscher visits patients during a two-hour window one day each week to help improve their mood and provide a space where patients can express their feelings. 

Oncology Massage Therapy is used to enhance relaxation and help decrease pain, anxiety and stress for patients. Two licensed oncology massage therapists, Deborah Hunter-Jones and Ginny Vickers, service both outpatient and inpatient patients for 15-20 minutes sessions, two days per week from 11 am–1 pm. This program is provided by Lucy’s Love Bus and funded through generous support from Boston Solar.

Our School Reentry Program was designed to assist and ease children in returning to school. Child Life Specialists and a Social Worker share with teachers and classmates information that will ease the patients’ path back to school. They educate classmates and teachers on what to expect with their friend’s return, how they might look and what they might need from their classmates and teachers.

Teens either in or off cancer treatment, meet on a regular basis to discuss specific needs of teens living with and surviving cancer in the Shooting Stars group.

WRITERS is a therapeutic writing and book-publishing project that was designed for patients and siblings who receive care and services through the Hematology/Oncology clinic. WRITERS is an acronym that stands for “Write, Read, Illustrate, Talk, Expand, Revise & Share”—all seven letters are integral stages of the writing process and form the foundation of the program’s central curriculum plan. The program offers a unique opportunity to create and publish a book, while simultaneously developing a supportive relationship with the WRITERS facilitator. If you think your child would be interested in WRITERS, please ask to speak to a Child Life Specialist who will help set your child up with Ginny, the Bibliotherapist.

VIBS (Very Important Brothers and Sisters), provides support to siblings living with a brother or sister in treatment. A pediatric cancer diagnosis can often be confusing and painful for the child’s siblings. We have created the VIBS group so that these siblings can have a healthy place where they can express themselves. The VIBS group meets occasionally, often on the weekend, to engage in a fun activity (like getting pizza or going to a movie) and meet other kids.

The Bereavement Group is a monthly support group for patients and adult siblings of patients who have passed away. The group is facilitated by the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology social worker. It provides a powerful and irreplaceable way for parents who have lost children to cancer to share and learn from one another’s experiences.

We will be recruiting families who have lived through childhood cancer to participate into our 12-week Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) program. Through participation in HEAL, parents will learn strategies to help their child maintain healthy habits and a healthy weight as a cancer survivor! Learn more about the design of HEAL program.

Our parent consultant holds a Parent Coffee Hour twice a week to check-in with parents and answer any questions they might have.

Our Parent Support Group is a weekly support/education group run by the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology social worker and parent consultant, which includes parents of children who are currently receiving inpatient care. The support group embraces the needs of parents and extended family as they work through every phase of treatment. It gives parents and caregivers a place to talk about what their families are going through with other parents who are in similar situations and understand how they feel.

The financial burden of having a child in cancer treatment can often be stressful for parents and caregivers. At Floating Hospital, our Hematology/Oncology Division has set up a number of Patient Support Funds through donations from past patient families and other groups to assist with things such as travel and food. Some of the support funds we provide include:

  • Alexander the Great – provides assistance for the extended family (e.g. grandparents) while they visit a child receiving cancer treatment
  • Cops for Kids with Cancer – a group of local law enforcement officers who raise money that’s given directly to the families of pediatric cancer patients
  • Family Reach – assists families with timely bill pay
  • Jennifer Creed Fund – provides assistance with patient and family travel costs
  • Lucy’s Love Bus – provides funding for integrative therapies (such as massage, yoga, meditation and music therapy) for children with cancer
  • Sophie’s Families First Fund – provides food vouchers for families