|Chelsea at the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Center in Greenville, S.C., with the teen activity cart she created. Photo by Jamie Gibson, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Center|
Chelsea provides guide
and activities for children
At age 10, Chelsea Ray, a member of Simpsonville (S.C.) United Methodist Church, was diagnosed with bone cancer. “Eighteen hospital stays and two surgeries later, I emerged a different person,” Chelsea said. “I wanted to find some way to give back, but I didn’t know how.
“While in the hospital, I always wished I had something that told me what to expect and how to prepare myself, and I wanted something to do while waiting for various procedures.”
As a Girl Scout, Chelsea was required to lead a social-service project in order to receive a Gold Award. “I didn’t have to think twice about it,” she reported. “I would provide the oncology center with a complete teen activity cart. And I would create an easy-to-understand pamphlet for new cancer patients.”
Chelsea said creating the information pamphlet was easy. She wrote about her experiences as a cancer patient, and she interviewed physicians and searched the Web for information on procedures she had not personally experienced. “I included little tips that doctors and nurses may forget to tell their patients,” she added. By the time she finished, the pamphlet was a booklet, and the hospital staff reviewed it for accuracy.
She then sent survey forms to teen cancer patients at the oncology center to find what they wanted. Armed with their responses, she produced a flyer asking for donations of specific movies and games. “I visited troops, churches, even day camps to personally make pleas for donations,” she said.
After she received the donated items, she purchased a small rolling wooden cabinet, added an extra shelf and put a lock on it. After delivering the booklets and the cart, Chelsea said she walked away “breathing a huge sigh of relief.”
“As my visits to the oncology center became less frequent, it was harder for me to see the impact my cart was making,” she said. Two years after the cart and booklets were delivered Chelsea was told that the cart was still being used and it was being restocked all the time.
“I swelled with pride knowing that my project was continuing to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients,” she concluded.
Chelsea not only received the Girl Scout Gold Award, she was also named by the national organization as a “Young Woman of Distinction.”
-- J. Richard Peck, freelance writer, Nashville, Tenn.