Cuddly stuffed animals help children cope with cancer

Justin Schecker

Cuddly stuffed animals help children cope with cancer

CREATED Aug. 6, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Children living with cancer face constant fear and anxiety, but now a new, cuddly friend at the University of Arizona Medical Center - Diamond Children's is helping them cope.

It is up to child life specialists like Molly DeVeny to help these children adjust to lives filled with check-ups, surgeries and treatments.    

"Part of my goal is to minimize trauma so play is a very big tool, a therapeutic tool for children that are in the hospital," DeVeny said.               

The newest play tool at Diamond Children's is the cuddly stuffed animal called Gabe's Chemo Duck. A non-profit with the same name donated 24 of the stuffed animals to Diamond Children's. 

"They're being reminded that they're still a kid, which is really hard when they're in the hospital," DeVeny said. 

Many of the patients have surgically implanted ports, which make it easier to draw blood and receive chemotherapy. Deveny uses the ducks, which have their own replica ports, to teach children about chemotherapy.

The role reversal of letting children play doctor helps ease their fears and anxieties,  DeVeny said. 

"When they get to play doctor and be the one in control, that makes a huge difference in how they're going to be coping with hospitalization," she said.

DeVeny's goal is for all of the children to have a chemo duck to help them through the ups and downs of their medical journeys. 

You can donate Gabe's Chemo Ducks in multiple of six by visiting the program's website and selecting Diamond Children's. 

Individual ducks can also be purchased and donated by mentioning Diamond Children's in the comments section here