April 19, 2016

A cancer diagnosis not only affects the person with the disease—it impacts family and friends as well. This is especially true when a child is dealing with the cancer diagnosis of a loved one.

Gigi’s Place, located in the new CAMC Cancer Center, is an area dedicated to the emotional and psychological well-being of children who have a loved one undergoing treatment or who have lost a parent to cancer. In this space children can interact with a licensed child psychologist in a quiet and safe environment that is welcoming, kid-friendly and supportive to each child’s individual needs. Children participate in crafts, artwork and other interactive activities to work through their grief, anger and confusion in a healthy way.

Gigi’s Place was created in honor of a young mother in the Charleston community who lost her battle with cancer and left behind a 4-year-old daughter, Gigi. Her dying wish was to provide a place for children to go to work through the grief of losing a parent to cancer. After her death, the family worked with the CAMC Foundation to make her dream a reality.

Cancer treatment is a long, difficult battle, and takes a major physical and emotional toll on the patient. It can be hard for children to understand why a parent or caregiver can no longer do the same things they did before treatment, like taking them to school, attending extracurricular activities, or playing outside. The child psychologist at Gigi’s Place helps children understand the changes going on in their lives and gives them tools to manage the “new normal.”

“It’s a way to help them through the chaos of cancer, as we call it,” said Jocelyn Burum, PsyD, child psychologist who sees the children at Gigi’s Place. “It’s a place they can come and have some time that’s just about them for a little while. We can offer coping skills and it’s just a safe place for them to come and talk about how they’re feeling.”

Burum’s goal is to eventually start group therapy so children can meet and talk about their similar experiences.

Special thanks to Ann and Paul Moran who helped make Gigi’s Place possible.

For more information about Gigi’s Place and how you can help support it, call the CAMC Foundation at (304) 388-9860.

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