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Candlelighters of the Inland Northwest

Educating the Child With Cancer

As the school year winds down and the graduates head off to college, we want to share one family's story of how they advocated for their child's early education. The power of Candlelighters is in these shared experiences. See the article 'Seasons Change' by Christine Burge.

In anticipation of the next school year,  consider sharing a copy of "Educating the Child with Cancer" with your child's teacher. It can make a difference in your child's future success as they one day head off to college. 

This publication, as is all Candlelighters publications, is provided free to families of children with cancer. We can also provide a copy to your child's teacher. Call 509-474-2759 to request your copy.

 June 2010

In this Issue:

Seasons Change by Christine Burge

Mary Anne Ruddis, Executive Director

Extending our Hand to New Families

Donate On-Line

Deer Park Ladies Golf Club 7th Year of Helping Kids June 13, 2010

A Little Help Goes a Long Way

Mark Your Calendars

In Remembrance

Heaven's Best Gives Back

Candlelighters Relay Team played in Candyland

Kicking Out Childhood Cancer

Seasons Change by Christine Burge

             On February 25th of this year my family celebrated a significant milestone.  Our son, Duncan was four years in remission and out of treatment for a stage IV hepatoblastoma diagnosis with an original prognosis of 20% long-term survival.  We are so proud of our son for his courageous achievement.  But it has been hard-won.


            In these years following treatment we have become familiar with the issues that families grapple with beyond the "crisis period" during which their child is in treatment.  We, as many other parents and guardians, were given a detailed listing of some of the known long-term effects of his treatment which included six months of chemo and four surgeries.  Only the "known" long-terms effects were listed because, frankly, in the world of pediatric cancer so much is unknown.  Nevertheless, we gave our solid, albeit, trepidatious consent.  The other alternative, to simply do nothing at all, was just not an option.  We are not alone in this realm of the "pseudo-choice" that many parents have to face at the mercy of childhood cancer.


            In preface, Duncan has done so well post-treatment.  He is a handsome beautiful, intelligent, and vibrant child who teaches us every day about the gifts of life and living.  That being said we have definitely experienced our share of challenges post-treatment - challenges outside of the risk of relapse for his cancer diagnosis.


            Unfortunately, Duncan has experienced some adverse effects as well.  Duncan began losing his high frequency hearing in both ears on the third cycle of chemo, just about the time his eyebrows and lashes fell out.  This loss has slowly been increasing its effects on his speech and, as he began kindergarten this past fall, we were quite concerned that this would interfere with his educational experience, specifically learning to read.  We arranged for a meeting with his teacher.  It just so happened that she had taught another child with cancer so we felt that her familiarity would lend itself well to Duncan's challenges.  We brought along our trusty and dog-eared copy of the Candlelighters publication Educating the Child With Cancer.  Knowing how busy most teachers are, we simply went through the book and chose the passages we felt would most concisely describe Duncan's issues.  At the meeting we gave her our copy and asked her to read what she could although we knew her time was limited.  We talked with her about Duncan's hearing loss in those first few weeks of school and, though she listened attentively and was empathetic, she communicated that she didn't see Duncan as having much of a problem.  She wholeheartedly agreed to reading our book.


            By fall conferences, we were curious to know how Duncan was doing.  Because he does not comply with the school district's standardized and rigorous rubric for children considered "hard of hearing" (evidently an audiologist's determination of "moderate hearing loss" does not warrant support), we were fearful that he was "falling through the cracks."  Boy were we in for a surprise...


            Duncan's teacher had read the passages in ECWC we had suggested.  Because she was so intrigued she didn't stop there, but read the entire book.  She thanked us repeatedly for sharing it with her and said that, not only had it informed her of the plight of pediatric cancer survivors and their families, it had enlightened her as to issues that any child with special needs faces in the classroom.  She said that, based on the information in the book and her own observations of Duncan in a new light, she was going to meet with the district's audiologist and recommend that they give Duncan any type of support available.  She said that she noticed that Duncan had a difficult time with certain consonants and didn't respond well to instructions given if he was not able to read the teacher's lips.  Just as we thought, this was even more so if the classroom was crowded and loud.


            Thanks to her dogged support, Duncan now benefits from an FM amplification system in the classroom! He is responding well to instructions and is even reading!  He is not isolated from his friends and their conversations and enjoys school.  Because Duncan does not "qualify" for this service based on test scores and because he is not a candidate for hearing aids at this time, he would have remained in limbo if it had not been for Educating the Child With Cancer and a very dedicated teacher. This is especially crucial because, just yesterday, his audiologist informed us that he has had more loss since last fall. 


            We are fortunate.  We are members of an effective and active affiliate of Candlelighters and had access to a wonderful tool.  We also had the time, knowledge, and ability to communicate with Duncan's educators.  Duncan had a teacher willing to advocate for him and a Special Ed team willing to be flexible.  Imagine what it would be like without those advantages.  Imagine what it would be like if every classroom in the school had a copy of ECWC.  The district?  The county?  The country?


Mary Anne Ruddis, Executive Director

Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital is in the initial steps of forming a Patient Advisory Council.  


The council is a group of families and staff who will work together to improve the patient care experience.   As Sacred Heart continues on its path to build a culture that is patient and family centered, the role of this council will continue to grow and evolve. 


The program will be piloted initially within the Peds Oncology unit and Sacred Heart is looking for individuals who are interested in becoming members of the council.


Candlelighters is proud to be a member of this effort as part of our mission to advocate for all children diagnosed with cancer.


Your personal experience with childhood cancer can inform and shape the experience for future families treated in Spokane. You can make a difference.

If you would like more information, or just to talk more in-depth about this group, please call Kim Ward, nurse manager of Peds Oncology at 474-2778.


As we head into summer, we have many up coming events. We look forward to getting everyone together for some much needed R&R.


If you haven't done so already, please be sure to click on 'subscribe' at the top of this newsletter. It really helps with the e-newsletter process.  


Mary Anne


Extending our Hand to New Families

Safiyyah is 3 years old and was recently diagnosed with ALL. Safiyyah likes Dora the Explorer, the color yellow and her favorite toy is Burton the Bear. She lives in Pasco, WA with mom Tia-Rose and dad Daniel. 


Pink is two-year-old Natalie's favorite color. She also likes the cartoon characters, Max & Ruby, and playing with Barbies. Natalie was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. She lives in Kennewick with mom Jenny, dad Shane, and big sister, Avery.

Dr. Reynolds Honored

Thank you to all who joined us May 7th at Manito Park to honor Dr. Reynolds for his dedication to kids with cancer in the Spokane community.

Click here for story and pictures.

Donate On-Line

Candlelighters is a Combined Fund Charity and that means  YOU can write in Candlelighters of the Inland Northwest as part of your United Way Giving.


Another way to donate and earn dollars for Candlelighters while you shop on-line is to

Go to the Candlelighters website to learn how to benefit Candlelighters through IGive, GoodSearch and EBAY too!

Deer Park Ladies Golf Club 7th Year of Helping Kids June 13, 2010

The 13th Annual Deer Park Ladies Golf Club Benefit   tournament is in its' 7th year benefiting Candlelighters of the Inland Northwest.


Don't miss this fun event! Get your team together and register by contacting Deb Spiger at or click on the link under Upcoming Events for a registration form.


A Little Help Goes a Long Way

  • July 6 - 10 Coffee stand at highway rest stop with Foresters Group. Also could use some cookies. Contact Lori Rodriguez
  • July 23rd Skyfest office 509-474-2759
  • July 24th Motorcycle Ride 509-474-2759
  • September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month activities. Contact Connie Hill-Bunch at 509-939-0725 or email


Mark Your Calendars

In Remembrance




Aaron Azevedo met Gregory during a flight  December 9, 2009

Click here to read the story on Aaron's blog




Candlelighters remembers all the children who have passed away.

Bereavement Group


Heaven's Best Gives Back

Heaven's Best Carpet Cleaning in Spokane donated $50 to help kids with cancer as a result of five carpet cleaning jobs in the month of May. Thank you Steve Robinson!  Steve has had cancer in his own family and wanted to give back to help kids in the Spokane area who are living with a cancer diagnosis.

Candlelighters Relay Team played in Candyland

"Even with the rain, we got the job done!" said Dotti Price – once again Candlelighters Team Captain for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.


With a Candyland game theme for the campsite, Dotti Price and her team did a great job of raising awareness for kids with cancer. Dotti wants to ensure that there is a face to represent childhood cancer at this event.  It is easy to forget amidst the staggering numbers of adult cancers and the increasing survival rates that childhood cancer is the still the number one disease killer of children.

Dotti's own daughter, Jenna, is a survivor of AML.  Jenna was diagnosed in November of 2004. Dotti and husband Brian have been champions for the cause ever since.


Each year Candlelighters remembers every child who has passed away with a luminary bag in their honor. Thank you, Dotti, for continuing this effort and making sure that all children are remembered.




Kicking Out Childhood Cancer






On May 1, 2010, Warhorse Martial Arts sponsored the 2010 Washington State Karate Championships Charity Tournament and raised over $3000.00! for Candlelighters.


Thanks to all the sponsors: Service Master of the Valley, AAA Sweeping, Zeman Home Centers, Inc., Gary and Jana Major, Jennifer Chandler - State Farm Agency, and Damon and Amanda Tong - Warhorse Martial Arts.


Special thanks to competitor and Grand Champion Chris Ross

who donated his tournament winnings to Candlelighters!





 Damon and Amanda Tong, Duncan Burge, Jana Majors

Candlelighters of the Inland Northwest • PO Box 8031 • Spokane • WA • 99203

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