This post is authored by Lisa Scherber, Director of Patient and Family Programs at Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. Lisa was honored recently with the Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s first (UP)Beat Cancer award for her outstanding work with children and families dealing with cancer.
It was an absolute honor to receive the (UP)Beat Cancer award from the Joe Andruzzi Foundation at the organization’s gala earlier this month. To be recognized as a positive force in the fight against cancer is incredibly touching.
In my job at Dana-Farber, the children and their families show me each day the importance of capturing and seeing the pure joy in every moment life brings.
I first fell in love with these families when I got involved with the Children’s Hospital Telethon in my former life as a producer with Channel Four News. The children I met that day set me on a career change journey: within a few years, I went from a volunteer with the Jimmy Fund to a Child Life Specialist at Dana-Farber with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. I still feel incredibly lucky to have found work that is so personally meaningful and fulfilling.
In my job, I’m known as the “play lady.” On any given day, I can be found playing with dolls and Legos, or hosting visits from local celebrities and athletes, such as Joe Andruzzi and his teammates. I also get to visit our patients’ schools through our Back to School program, helping kids learn how to support and encourage friends with cancer. At the Jimmy Fund Clinic, we create seasonal festivals and parties, organize weekend trips and girls’ events – all with the purpose of helping our kids and families bond with each other. We really want to provide a sense of community and normalcy to people who are going through so much.
My simple goal every day is to lift kids’ spirits and make them smile. Like the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, I just want to make families and patients forget about cancer, even if just for a minute. If I can accomplish that, I know I’ve done my job.
Of course, the inspiration goes both ways. The kids I work with love life and fight for it each day, and that is incredibly heart-warming and contagious. This award makes me happy, because I know the passion and love I feel for my job and these families is clearly transparent. These children make me laugh harder and smile wider!
Receiving this award from Jen and Joe makes it even more special; they are the real deal in the cancer battle. They change the lives of so many families, and they refuse to let them walk this journey alone.
I am so happy that these two amazing people came into our lives at the Dana-Farber Children’s Hospital Cancer Center, and made everything a bit more bearable.
– Lisa Scherber