Healing with compassion, in memory of Zach
When a child or teen is diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer, it can feel like their world has been turned upside down. Field trips and birthday parties are replaced with endless prods and debilitating treatments. As physical side effects progress, the emotional toll sets in. Younger children might become frightened by the foreign environment, while teens often grapple with an overwhelming sense of isolation.
That’s where Child and Youth Therapeutic Services (CYTS) comes in. In the division of hematology, oncology, blood and marrow transplant at BC Children’s Hospital, this dedicated team makes a powerful impact on children, youth, and their families by harnessing a powerful mix of evidence-based techniques—including therapeutic play and music therapy. These programs make being in the hospital a brighter experience for children, while reducing fear and anxiety.
The larger CYTS team includes Child Life specialists like Kristina Jackson, who has captured the hearts of many families, including Dana Prince who co-founded the Zach Prince Foundation along with Zach’s mother Elana in memory of their son. The Zach Prince Foundation’s endowment has provided more than $845,000 in support of oncology education, training and programs including CYTS since its inception.
During their journey at BC Children’s Hospital, Dana and Elana saw firsthand the difference CYTS was making in the lives of children and youth. This inspired them to make a generous gift in honour of Kristina and her efforts as part of this amazing team.
“With her pure heart and magical smile, Kristina makes a big difference in the lives of children, every day,” Dana said. “Her exceptional care and support of oncology patients and their families at BC Children’s exemplifies the purpose of the Zach Prince Foundation: excellence in oncology care. With much gratitude, we recognize and thank Kristina for making such a meaningful difference to so many of BC’s most vulnerable children and their families, including ours.”
Being a member of the CYTS team is challenging work, but for Kristina, it comes with a unique set of rewards. “We’re surrounded by families who are faced with uncertainty, but still end up teaching us about hope, kindness, gratitude and the capacity for joy,” she said. “It’s hard not to appreciate life to the fullest when this is your perspective every day.”
“We’re surrounded by families who are faced with uncertainty, but still end up teaching us about hope, kindness, gratitude and the capacity for joy.”
This article was originally featured in the Spring 2023 issue of Shine magazine.