A Parent’s Perspective: Hallie’s Mom

“The book somehow interpreted what Hallie really needed during her seven year plight with cancer and put it in a form she could understand best.”

December 3, 2003

Dear Art with Heart,

Nine years ago this month, my daughter Hallie spent her first birthday in a steel crib at Children’s Hospital recovering from the first of four major operations to remove tumors caused by neuroblastoma.

OoD-Hallie-Make-A-Wish-TripSince then, there have been so many other procedures that we’ve lost count (well… I haven’t!), so many days spent in clinic visits, so many hours awaiting tests results, and so many miracles that have occurred that just being upright is a major accomplishment.

Hallie was diagnosed just days before her first birthday and has continued to fight this cancer almost her whole life. We know every nook and cranny of Children’s Hospital, our way around Fred Hutch, and where the best snack machines are at UW hospital. We’ve have made the circuit, that’s for sure!

When my friend, Peggie, told us about Oodles of Doodles, we were thrilled – but in a fog from the first eight months of chemo and an immediate recurrence – so none of it made sense. I mean I had a kid’s life to save, another to potty train!

You see, Peggie had lunch with Steffanie Lorig the day after spending a night in the hospital with Hallie. Peggie looked worn out and super tired. She had been trying to keep the whole oncology floor happy with happy activities – painting nails, reading magazines, playing games, doing art. Then she had tried to sleep in Hallie’s room, which also housed three other families – plus everyone’s medical equipment and the never-ending beeps and clicks and alarms. As Peggie told Steffanie about her little friend named Hallie as well as the other sick children, a dream began. Literally.

Shortly afterwards, Steffanie had a dream about Hallie and a book that harnessed the power of art and how it could help kids like Hallie who were facing major health issues. The whole project is a dream come true – literally!

Last year [2002], when Hallie was presented her own copy (she took to it like candy), the dream continued. The book somehow interpreted what Hallie really needed during her seven year plight with cancer and put it in a form that she could understand best – through crayons and pencils and funny illustrations and crazy characters.

Oodles of Doodles brought laughs and fun and excitement – and joy – to our black days. And what a gift of togetherness, silliness, and just plain old fun this book has been to the thousands of families and children who’ve received this book so far. And it’s been a pleasure to help in our own small way. Upon Hallie’s request, we began donating copies of the book to the kids at Camp Goodtimes. When I see a camper clutching their own copy of Oodles, asking her favorite counselor to sign it like it’s the prized yearbook, it’s a triumph.

And back at the hospital, when I notice a mom totally engaged with her child in the book, it’s a victory we all can share.

What Art with Heart has done with this Oodles of Doodles project – and with all the other programs they do – is let children be children, regardless of the grown-up situations they are in.

Thank you, Art with Heart. Please continue the good work for the sake of Hallie and for the thousands of other children facing lengthy hospitalizations and difficult treatments.

Love,

Reisha H., Issaquah, WA