Just days after September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month ended, Wilton’s Circle of Care helped pull together representatives from nearly 20 organizations that provide support services to CT families facing childhood cancer to launch a statewide partnership.

On Saturday morning, Oct. 3, the first ever Leadership Forum of the Childhood Cancer Alliance of CT was held at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. Participating organizations included those providing inpatient and outpatient services such as financial assistance, emotional support and camp experiences.

“We were very pleased to see so many key service providers engaged and energized to work collaboratively toward increasing awareness about childhood cancer and improving services for families,” said Liz Salguero, president and co-founder of Circle of Care. “This alliance has the potential to make a very positive impact on children with cancer and their families.”

Circle of Care is one of the six organizations on the Planning Committee of the Alliance. The Wilton-based Circle of Care provides comprehensive peer support to families of children with cancer.

Presenters stressed the importance of collaboration among support service providers. The keynote speaker, State Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Jr., shared his personal experience with childhood cancer and spoke about the public policy challenges surrounding support services for today’s families living through their own journey with childhood cancer.

Pictured above:  Gary Kupfer, MD (head of oncology at Yale’s Smilow Cancer Center), Sen. Kennedy, Liz Salguero and Deanna Phillips, LCSW of CT. Children’s Medical Center

Permanent Art Exhibit

Circle of Care also announced that its recently-launched, statewide traveling exhibit, “There Is…Life Within The Journey,” will receive a permanent exhibition space at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Smilow Cancer Center. The permanent display was unveiled Monday, Sept. 28. The photojournalistic gallery was inspired by the children and families Circle of Care meets and works with on a daily basis at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.

Developed by Circle of Care, “There Is…Life Within The Journey” features a stunningly emotional and intimate look at children with cancer and the characteristics that comprise the authentic journey through pediatric cancer treatment. The compelling exhibit offers an alternative view of childhood cancer and features more than 20 images of children from communities across Connecticut, delicately captured by New Canaan-based photographer and former Circle of Care board member Jeanna Shepard.

“We are thrilled that ‘There Is…Life Within the Journey’ will have a permanent home in the Smilow Cancer Center, particularly as Circle of Care was born out of our own experiences with children undergoing treatment at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, and this exhibit was inspired by the amazing children and families who gracefully demonstrate every day that children are more than their cancer and their journey through treatment is about more than IV poles and chemotherapy,” said Salguero. “So much of what we see about pediatric cancer doesn’t tell the whole story. This exhibit beautifully illuminates the life within the journey and changes the narrative around pediatric cancer from children as victims of this disease to highlight the strength and character of each child.”

“Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital is very proud to partner with the Circle of Care to help highlight the personal perspective of the children we care for and their families,” said Cynthia Sparer, executive director, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. “The beautiful images on display in the “Life Within The Journey” exhibit will be an inspiration to all who view them for years to come.”

Circle of Care plans to bring “There Is…Life Within The Journey” to communities throughout the state over the course of the next year, primarily in public galleries. To-date, the exhibit has appeared in New Canaan and Fairfield. “There Is…Life Within the Journey” has been so well received that it will be become an ongoing initiative for Circle of Care, regularly bringing new children and families and their stories into the project.

The children featured in the exhibit all receive treatment at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. To learn more about Circle of Care and “There Is…Life Within The Journey,” please visit the Circle of Care website.