A Message From Dr. Abraham Bartell, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
When Mikey Friedman was my patient he recognized through his own experiences the need to connect and to help others connect within the extremely limited world of treatment. As electronic devices improve and become more commonplace, research is now catching up to Mikey in recognizing the strength of communication and interaction for young cancer patients. Anyone who has attended a Mikey’s Way Day has seen the joy and gratitude of the patients in the moment, but it is the long-term impact, days, weeks and months afterward that truly make the difference.
Our bodies and minds are connecting in more than a purely physical manner. They are partners in maintaining our overall good health. When one isn’t working well, the other can be significantly impacted as well. Mood and anxiety issues by themselves can pose a serious health threat, but when depression and / or anxiety strikes a person who is already battling a medical condition, such as cancer, they can worsen the condition or make it less responsive to treatment. For people with life threatening or chronic medical illnesses, it is doubly important to recognize, diagnose and treat psychological illness and whenever possible prevent the development of psychological issues entirely.
The mind/body connection between emotional wellness and physical well-being is important for all cancer patients, but is more pronounced in young people. The pediatric population has the added complexity that results from the insult to their “normal development” during their cancer experience. The isolation and tedium of treatment separates them from their family, friends, and the things they enjoy. Although there are different ways to intervene with the pediatric population to minimize or treat the impact of their experience electronic devices are now available and have become a vital and important tool to help children and teens cope. Electronic devices can help children and teens reconnect to “their world” and introduce a measure of normalcy and a corrective developmental experience.
Many families lack the resources to purchase these items, or are so overwhelmed by the treatment process that they don’t realize or recognize the import or see the opportunity that these devices hold.