Most parents are fortunate they don’t have to imagine how they would feel if their child was diagnosed with cancer. Give A Duck exists to help those families who aren’t so lucky and have to deal with facing up to that frightening reality.
Developed in the US by Lu Sipos for her son Gabe when he was diagnosed, Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program is primarily an educational aid, giving children a plush toy to keep with them throughout their treatment which has been designed to help with explaining what might happen.
Children feel they can take back some control at a time when they have very little, for example by suggesting that nurses clean the duck’s Hickman Line or Portacath before their own. This helps to make things seem a little less scary and provides a relaxed way to have discussions about what will happen.
We aim to deliver this education programme to every childhood treatment centre in the UK. To achieve this goal we work with the various cancer centres and their local charities to introduce the scheme and its many benefits. By educating play leaders, family and medical staff about the many uses and roles Chemo Duck can play during treatment we know we can help make things a little easier at a really difficult time.
How do we know that? Our childhood cancer story
Harry is now a teenager, but when we he was seven our founding trustees Karen and Andrew received the devastating news he had leukaemia.
Harry was promised a Chemo Duck to help him adjust to his new path in life. As parents trying to get to grips with a new reality this was the least of their worries, but Harry never forgot he’d been promised a duck, holding on to the hope and dream of having a companion to go through the treatment with. When no duck appeared, Harry told his parents, and Karen and Andrew became determined to source one for him.
Contacting Lu, the founder of the Chemo Duck charity in the US, they discovered that distribution problems were preventing the ducks being sent to the UK, despite the charity’s enthusiasm about them being available to children over here.
It was as if the universe had conspired to put Karen and Andrew in touch with Lu because they are directors of Jenkar, an international shipping company which also has its own warehouses. A new partnership was forged, and in 2015 Karen and Andrew established Give A Duck as a registered charity to make sure that children in the UK could benefit from the cancer companion ducks and the education programme that had been developed.
Harry no longer needs his Chemo Duck, but the family knows what a comfort it was and are proud that Give A Duck in partnership with Gabe’s Chemo Duck can make things a little easier for families facing a similar situation. That’s why we do what we do.
We want every child diagnosed with cancer in the UK to be given the hope and companionship this unique programme provides to help them through treatment.
We will put all of our efforts into raising funds, partnering with local charities where they exist, so that children with cancer feel more in control and less anxious.
Play therapy is a proven technique for helping children to understand medical procedures, and a better understanding means they are less scared and more prepared. We can’t stop children getting cancer, but we can help to make the treatment journey easier.
Can you help us to help children with cancer?
Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program is a unique educational program offered by Gabe’s My Heart, a non-profit organisation in the USA that supports children and families living with cancer.
Created by Gabe’s mother when he was diagnosed with cancer at a young age, Chemo Duck is a soft, cuddly companion that provides huggable hope and alleviates fear and anxiety.
Developed with the help of paediatric healthcare specialists and medical professionals, the education programme helps introduce children and families to their new life and encourages healing through the power of play therapy. Give A Duck is the UK partner for Gabe’s Chemo Duck, distributing the cuddly ducks to children with cancer and their families, and giving them access to the education programme that goes with them.