Group Offers Support for Kids Dealing with Family Cancer

SPRINGDALE, Ark.-- - Fear hit Lisa Snyder after doctors diagnosed her husband Travis with stage four lymphoma in December 2014.

"Then it hit me, and I think fear sunk in, because reality became real," Snyder said. "There was a great chance of losing him."

A terrifying thought, but something else worried Lisa just a much: how this cancer diagnosis would affect her children.

"At first I was really afraid," Jerron Snyder said. "I found out it could take his life."

"I wasn't able to emotionally support the kids because I was going through my own baggage and I was trying to be strong for them," Lisa said. "I needed help."

Lisa turned to Hope Cancer Resources for that help. The non-profit hosts the Climb program. It aims to educate kids on what their parents experience during cancer treatments, giving families tours of chemo rooms and radiation clinics. The program also uses activities to focus on different emotions that kids may feel through the process.

"Just kind of normalizing for the children that it's ok to feel the way they feel about their loved ones diagnosis and that they are not alone," said Miki Biggers, Director of Social Work Services.

"We talked about how our parents would be treated in an environment where they are really cared for and taken care of," Jerron said.

Lisa said that the program helped open a dialogue with her kids, and lead to more open family discussions.

"They actually got to see what my husband was going through," Lisa said. "It made it more real to them where we could talk to them."

"We're hearing families say their children are coming to them more with questions and they are actually talking about the cancer more," Biggers said.

Not just the kids get to talk about their fears and feelings. There is also a separate session helping parents.

"I got to meet many wonderful people who were in their own struggle," Lisa said. "We were able to just share our thoughts, our struggles, able to laugh together."

The Snyder family said that Travis shows no sign of active cancer, and his diagnosis is good. A relief for a family who has been through a lot, but haven't done it alone.

"I wouldn't be who I am today without the Climb program," Jerron said.

Hope Cancer Resources starts its next Climb program September 20th.

The group has also taken the program into schools and encourages any schools to contact them if interested.

For more information, call (479) 361-5847.

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