Pippa Buck

I was diagnosed with cancer just before my 11th birthday but summer camp has made me stronger

Camp Simcha lifted my spirits after I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

September 29, 2023 17:14

“I always know it’s going to be so much fun when I spend time with Camp Simcha, but also that I am with people who understand.

I had already been on a children’s retreat last December, so it was really nice to see some of the friends I had made when I got to family retreat. I also liked meeting new people.

We did a great outing to Go Ape and a helicopter ride, and there were so many fun things for us to do. It was such a good distraction from hospitals and treatment. It’s also good because you are with people who understand if you have a day when you don’t feel great. They get it and just know.

A few weeks after retreat, I went to Camp Simcha USA in the Catskill Mountains with my Camp Simcha UK volunteer and other children the charity supports. It is the most incredible experience, like nothing you could imagine.

You get off the flight feeling a bit groggy, but then as soon as you get there, all the volunteers are dancing and singing you off the coach, and it just feels like such a happy place.

There are some activities led by counsellors and some just for kids. We also had an opportunity to share our story. You can tell as much or as little as you like, but it feels really good to have that space.

There are loads of amazing activities and they really encourage you to try new things, but they also let you get on with it so that you feel independent.

Both trips were such a great distraction from everything that is happening medically, especially in America, where I knew I had two weeks when I wouldn’t have to have any treatment.

It was a real relief and a break from what I have been going through. Initially, after my diagnosis, I had to stay in hospital, and then I had more than six months of intense chemotherapy. There were also lots of blood tests and transfusions.

Now I have to go to hospital for treatment once a month, and then I have steroids after that. Once every ten weeks, I have to have a lumbar puncture. But I finish treatment at the end of September, so I am nearly there.

This summer, I really embraced the experience with Camp Simcha. I made some really good friends with whom I now message regularly, which feels like a really good support.

Coming back, I felt mentally stronger, which I hope will help me during the rest of my treatment.

September 29, 2023 17:14

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