My child is currently in treatment. How do we get a Chemo Pal?
Please feel free to reach out to CCA directly at ChemoPal@JoyRx.org or speak with your hospital Social Worker. Our program is available for children served in the Hematology & Oncology Units at Randal Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. Our Halo Buddy Program – an extension of the Chemo Pal Program – is available at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Portland, Oregon.
What is the role of a Chemo Pal Mentor?
Chemo Pal Mentors provide companionship to a child or teen undergoing treatment for a serious illness. Our mentors visit in the hospital during treatment, playing games, listening to music, sharing hobbies, relieving the anxiety, loneliness, and isolation often experienced by children in treatment. They can also give parents a much-needed break to grab a cup of coffee, talk with doctors, or spend time with their other children.
How long is a typical Chemo Pal Match?
We ask our Chemo Pal Mentors to commit to at least a year from the time that they are matched with their mentee. Some of these relationships will last shorter or longer depending on the child’s diagnosis and treatment plan. We highly encourage the match to last the length of the child’s treatment, even if that is longer than one year.
What is the commitment?
As mentioned above, we ask for a year commitment from our mentors. They visit anywhere from six – eight hours per month and submit monthly journals to update our Chemo Pal Specialists on how often they visited, who was present, and if there are any comments or concerns. Mentors are also asked to attend three of our monthly Chemo Pal Support and Education nights each year.
What is the screening process?
All CCA volunteers attend a mandatory volunteer orientation. At orientation, you will be able to sign up for a Chemo Pal interview slot. Our Chemo Pal Specialist’s interview all potential Chemo Pal Mentors to verify their suitability for the program. We carefully screen applicants through background checks, hospital education training, child abuse prevention training, immunization record checks, reference checks, etc. After the screening process, we invite our potential mentors to attend Chemo Pal Mentor training, then approve or deny all applicants as a team.
How will I be matched with a mentee?
We take personality, interests, preferences, and availability into account when making a match. Our Chemo Pal Specialists meet the youth and families who are interested in having a Chemo Pal and learn of their interests and preferences in a mentor. We then look at our list of mentors waiting to be matched and reach out to the best fit!
How often does a Chemo Pal meet with their mentee?
It completely depends on the child’s treatment plan – some youth are at the hospital every day and others are only there once per month (with a lot of variability in between). However, we often see that our Chemo Pals visit one to two times a week and ask that visits stay within six – eight hours per month.
How old do you have to be to become a Chemo Pal mentor?
You must be 18 years or older to become a Chemo Pal mentor.
How long does it take for a Chemo Pal to be matched with a mentee?
After our mentors complete the screening process and attend training, it can be anywhere from one day to many months before a Chemo Pal Mentor will be matched with their mentee. Often, mentors with more flexible schedules are matched more quickly.
What kind of support do Chemo Pal mentors receive while they’re matched?
Every Chemo Pal match is supervised by one of our Chemo Pal specialists. Our specialists provide support throughout the entirety of the match and check in with mentors and families regularly. We also hold monthly Support & Education nights where various professionals share relevant expertise to help inform and provide support for our mentors.
We also offer additional one-on-one support to our mentors who are matched with a child who has died or is not expected to survive their disease, including bi-annual grief & bereavement support nights.
Do I need to purchase toys to bring with me to the hospital?
There is no monetary commitment to the program other than the cost of immunizations, background check, and a suggested donation to cover the cost of training materials during the initial screening process. CCA has an entire closet full of toys, games, activities, etc. for our mentors to utilize. Thanks to so many of our incredible community partners and friends for keeping our toy closet full!
How long has this program been in existence and what has been the impact?
The Chemo Pal program started in 1999. In a typical year, CCA has about 240 Chemo Pal matches. Our Chemo Pals spent over 6,000 hours spending quality time together this past year! Currently CCA has facilitated over 1,400 matches since the program’s beginning.
I can’t commit to becoming a Chemo Pal mentor, but I would love to support the program. What are other ways that I can get involved?
There are countless ways you can make a difference in the lives of the seriously ill kids and families served by CCA’s programs of JoyRx. Examples included: hosting a toy drive at your office, creating a personal fundraising page, or inviting CCA to speak about our volunteer opportunities at your place of work.