Mar 14, 2013 11:22 PM by Ellina Abovian, KSBY News

Local hospital offers support group for kids coping with cancer in the family

French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo is offering a support group to help families better cope with a cancer diagnosis.

Gabriel Browne Wieneke is now in fifth grade, but when he was just four-years old, his mother was diagnosed with cancer.

Instead of keeping Gabriel in the dark, his mother chose to be honest about her illness. "To simplify what cancer would mean to a four-year old, I basically explained it as, ‘mommy has a bubble in her tummy that needs to be shrunk or popped,'" said Jenny Mulks Wieneke. She says sharing helped them both heal.

The Hearst Cancer Resource Center has developed a program for children and teens to deal with some of the fears and concerns they may be going through when someone they love has been diagnosed with cancer. Play therapy will be offered for children under 10, and there are structured support groups for older kids and teens.

"We found that there is a big need for patients who come through our door, so we decided to create this program," said Beverly Kirkhart, Hearst Cancer Resource Center Director.

Gabriel will speak during the March session. "You just gotta keep your head up and just hope for the best and usually the best will come," he said.

The support groups will be held at French Hospital Medical Center every third Tuesday of the month at 6:00 pm. It is free and open for children and teens between the ages of 7 and 18.



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