It’s said William Shakespeare first penned the phrase “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve,” but Eileen Shattuck took it to the next level when she tattooed the Children’s Cancer Association’s heart logo on her arm. We are incredibly grateful to Eileen for her support of CCA and inspired to know someone who has so much love and dedication for a cause that we all hold close to our hearts.
Eileen’s involvement in CCA began in 2007 when she signed up to volunteer at an event. Since then she’s helped organize the annual Dawn to Dusk Paddle through the Bridge City Paddling Club and built a lasting relationship with her Chemo Pal of three years, Mason.
What sparked your interest in volunteering?
“CCA sounded like a great organization, so I went to an event to learn about the cause and the people behind it. I had a busy schedule, but CCA never dropped me off the list, and I always found a time to volunteer. Eventually, my husband and I started Dawn to Dusk.”
Tell us more about your Dawn to Dusk event.
“Dawn to Dusk is a 12-hour benefit paddle that began in 2011 when my husband (CCA Board Member Jeremy Shattuck) and I combined our love of dragon boating and our passion for CCA into one event! Every year we paddle almost 70 miles around Ross Island. The effort of paddling all day is nothing compared to what the families go through. My favorite part is getting to bring CCA families on a river tour of the bridges and submarine.”
What inspired you to become a Chemo Pal?
“I decided to volunteer as a Chemo Pal Mentor after some suggesting from CCA staff. I never dreamed that I could be the right fit or could find the hours.
I also have a lot of nieces and nephews in my family and always thought, if something happened to them and I couldn’t be there, it would be important to have someone like a Chemo Pal looking after them. I’m hoping to be a Chemo Pal again now that Mason graduated from the program.”
Tell us about your Chemo Pal, Mason.
“Mason and I have been Chemo Pals for three years and his last day of chemo was March 22nd! He started out as a shy, sweet, well mannered little kid and as we got to know each other, he really opened up to me. He’s fun, always has a smile, and never minds what’s happening at the hospital. In fact, he was interested in everything the doctors and nurses were doing. We started calling him Doctor Mason; it might even be what he does someday. Mason is also a sports nut, loves the Seahawks and the Blazers and likes to kid me about being a Chargers fan.”
Do you have a favorite memory from your time with Mason?
“Yes! I was visiting Mason at the hospital, and he was tired and not feeling great. He crawled up onto my lap and fell asleep. It may not sound like much, but it meant a lot to me.”
What does being a Chemo Pal mean to you?
“Seeing Mason’s smile and having fun, getting to play, it’s good to be there for him. It means the world. It gives you focus on things that are important. When I get bogged down with things in my life, I step back and think about Mason and realize that he’s happy all the time. I can relax on some of the little things in life that upset me.”
Do you have advice for new Chemo Pal Mentors?
“If you’re not sure about being a Chemo Pal right away, events are a great way to volunteer. You get to learn more about CCA, and there’s tons of information. Just go for it!
I was scared when I first signed up to be a Chemo Pal. I got the training, I did the interview and didn’t know if I would be good at it, right up to the last training session. That’s when I realized how much CCA would be there for me. Chemo Pal Specialists help with anything that comes up, and I realized I wasn’t alone. From there it was simple.”
A round of applause for Eileen
On top of all she does for CCA, Eileen also finds room in her schedule for volunteering with the Food Bank, Special Olympics and donating platelets and blood. CCA is forever grateful to her for all she’s done to bring joy to kids facing serious illness and all that she will continue to do to make the world a better place.
Learn more about becoming a Chemo Pal Mentor, like Eileen, and make a difference in a child’s hospital experience.