AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Teenagers who often depend on their family and medical staff to help them through treatment at Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders traveled to Arizona on Friday to see the Colorado Rockies during spring training and enjoy a weekend with more independence.
“I’m super excited,” said Campbell Sullivan, 16, one of the patients traveling to Scottsdale. “I’ve honestly never seen a Rockies game or seen the Rockies play so I’m excited to meet some of the players and watch the game.”
This is the sixth year in a row the hospital has taken the trip to see the team. This year the Jason Motte Foundation is supporting the trip while the Rockies help to host the trip. There are more than 20 patients on the trip with 15 caregivers but their family members agree to let them travel on their own. It may be the first time they’ve left Colorado for some or been away from loved ones.
“When a child is diagnosed with cancer or another serious blood disorder, it really disrupts every aspect of their life,” said Dr. Bob Casey, the wellness program coordinator at Children’s. “One of things that gets disrupted is their sense of independence.”
The group finished packing in the hospital lobby and made sure they had all the medicine they needed for the weekend before they boarded a bus in the morning for the airport. Family members waved as they drove off. Each patient received a Rockies travel bag to bring all of their belongings on the trip.
One of the highlights will be the time they enjoy at the hotel throughout the weekend. Sullivan said she is looking forward to swimming in the pool. Her family commutes from more than two hours away to get her to the hospital for treatments. She says her family and the medical team often have to coordinate when she can come to Children’s and there was extra planning to make sure she could be away for the weekend and go on this trip.
“It’ll be fun. It’ll be different,” she said. “I’m excited to have some independence.”
Another advantage of this trip is the chance to connect patients with other teenagers that are dealing with the same challenges as them. While at the hospital, they often do not get the chance to meet others their age going through treatment.
“I’m excited to meet the other kids, cause I’ve never met any of them before,” she said.
Casey says during this weekend the group will realize that they are not alone and get to share experiences with others just like them. Another goal of the trip is to give each of them time to enjoy activities away from the hospital and not have their treatment be the focus of their day.
“The impact is on multiple levels,” he said of the trip. “To prove to themselves that they still can be independent.”
The team that travels with the patients to Arizona works with them back at Children’s Hospital in Colorado. Casey says the trip will help them make a better connection with these teens and improve the way they care for them beyond this weekend.
The group will watch a game on Saturday and then meet the entire team on Sunday.
“I’m going to have so much fun and thanks to everyone involved,” said Sullivan.