DETROIT – Children with serious illnesses face a lot of pain and discomfort. They're poked and prodded, and they undergo treatments and surgery. That's why the program Kids Kicking Cancer teaches them skills to help them cope and power through the pain.
Patients in the program at Children's Hospital of Michigan recently demonstrated those skills to hospital workers. Kids Kicking Cancer teaches the mind-body techniques of martial arts, breathing and meditation
Michael Hunt is an instructor who understands what these children are going through because he has been there himself.
Hunt was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma when he was 9 years old. His treatment for the disease included the surgical removal of four ribs and a tumor, chemotherapy and radiation. Hunt discovered Kids Kicking Cancer when he was a patient and it helped him get through his treatment.
"With all of that came a lot of pain, a lot of stress, and I found out about Kids Kicking Cancer. I went to the first class, loved the breathing, the meditations that we did, and they helped me," Hunt said.
He is now a mentor to new patients.
"Some of the kids who were here today, some of them, before they came to our program, had to be held down to get an IV, to get their port accessed," Hunt said. "After they're with us, they know they can take control. They can do their breathing. They don't have to be held down. They tell their doctors or nurse, 'Give me a minute. Let me power breathe,' and they're fine."
Alexandra Willoughby's son, Terrell, has sickle cell anemia. She said she has seen his confidence grown and his fear subside when he gets injections and receives other treatments.
"I would say that this program is very powerful. It will help not only the family with stress relief, but your children who are going through different challenges with having different ailments. It will definitely help them get through some of the hard times," Willoughby said.
Kids Kicking Cancer was founded in Michigan. It has programs in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties. For more information, click here.