year 2, week 24: this week i'm gonna... support children through a parent's illness
Shannon Zucca and her husband, Bruno, have three boys who keep them on their toes: Nico (15), who is into crew; Andrew (12), who loves to laugh; and Landon (10) who loves basketball.
The family is boisterous and abounding with love. Bruno is proudly – and loudly – half Italian and half Greek. The best place to find Greek food in Austin? “My kitchen!” he boasts.
Although they are happy, the Zucca family has been on a health rollercoaster. In September 2016, Shannon’s routine colonoscopy found colon cancer. She had surgery that October to remove the tumor. A few weeks later, doctors discovered cancer on her liver as well. Now diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, Shannon faces additional surgeries and chemotherapy. Thankfully, the Zuccas are not alone -- they have Wonders & Worries in their corner.
Wonders & Worries provides a range of support for families dealing with illness, including helping kids to understand and process specific diseases. Professional staff lead clients through exercises and activities to figure out what children and teens already know about a disease and then help teach them facts and medical terminology.
Wonders & Worries also holds Teddy Bear Clinics that utilize the power of medical play. Children make ID bracelets, give exams, wash and bandage limbs, give injections, and perform surgery on their bears, snakes, dolls... and sometimes even pterodactyls.
The mission of Wonders & Worries is to provide professional support for children through a parent or caregiver’s illness. Their work ensures that children and teens continue succeeding, building a foundation of emotional resiliency that allows them to reach their full potential.
Wonders & Worries professional child life staff provide tools for families to build a solid foundation of communication to successfully cope during the challenge of illness and thereafter. They provide a variety of services, including:
- Individual counseling and support
- Group counseling
- Monthly check-in groups
- Parent support and training
- Bereavement support
- Family fun events
You can learn more about Wonders & Worries in the video below.
Children and teens learn about more than just diseases at Wonders & Worries; the goal is to build well-being for life with tools for coping, communication, and compassion.
“Before Wonders & Worries, if we’d asked the boys to help around the house more, it would have been World War III," states Shannon. "But a child life staff member talked to them about what to expect – that I might lose my hair, that I could feel nauseous and be hurting – and that because of that, they should be more patient with me."
Andrew now does laundry, Nico oversees loading the dishwasher, and Landon is in charge of emptying the dishwasher. The new approach is working. Shannon says,“Because of Wonders & Worries they have a foundation of empathy that will serve them beyond this moment.”
Though children ages 2-18 are the primary group served by Wonders & Worries, parents can also feel lost. All Wonders & Worries parents receive consultations and referrals to additional resources.
Shannon and Bruno say they have picked up more than a few tips: “We’ve gained basic communication skills. We learned that when our tone of voice goes up, it increases our stress and affects the kids. Some families might not need that instruction, but we did. We’re arguing less and making a conscious effort to be less loud.”
Notes for this week:
- Father's Day is June 18th! Don't forget to call your dad!
- Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor a family fun outing that gives 15 families the opportunity to relax and enjoy a respite from illness together..
- For more information regarding Wonders and Worries, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to Wonders and Worries.