When a child is battling cancer or other serious illness, the entire family is affected, including siblings. Recognizing the important role brothers and sisters play in the healing process, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital recently hosted Sibling Star Day, an event dedicated to celebrating the brothers and sisters of St. Jude patients.
The annual event, designed by St. Jude child life specialists and social workers, is filled with activities to commemorate each sibling's journey through a brother's or sister's fight against illness.
"Because parents are overwhelmed and expend their energies providing information, support and comfort to the child who is sick, they sometimes have difficulty providing enough time and attention to siblings," said Shawna Grissom, director of the Child Life Program at St. Jude. "Siblings can be overlooked."
St. Jude provides activities and programs that include patients' brothers and sisters throughout the year, but having a day dedicated to siblings is a distinctive way to shine a spotlight on them.
"When siblings rally around the patients, not only does it aid in the healing process, but it also becomes a coping mechanism for the entire family," said St. Jude Social Worker Kathy Clayton.
This year's Sibling Star Day had a "Hollywood" theme. Brothers and sisters began the day with an arts-and-craft activity, making posters with their handprints and listing their own unique characteristics. Siblings then donned sunglasses and boas and walked the red carpet among cheering doctors, nurses and other staff to a luncheon held in their honor. At the luncheon, siblings received trophies, denoting the winning role that each child plays in the life of an ill brother or sister.