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Virtual Visits During COVID-19

As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, we want to make sure our NAN families and volunteers stay safe and practice social distancing. We also know that the weekly visit from a Nanny Angel can make all the difference to a mom with cancer and to her children and so we encourage our volunteers and families to continue their visits during COVID-19 by meeting virtually, either by phone or video conferencing.

This time is yours! Please use it however you feel is best, but if you’re a little stumped on how to have a virtual visit, our Child Life Specialist has come up with a few suggestions to get you started. Keep checking back for new Skypetivities!

1. Story Time
Want to test the waters with a virtual visit? Consider reading a book together! This is great for all ages and can be done over the phone or through any video conferencing app. You can take it a step further by creating your own stories together or pre-recording yourself reading a story for the kids to access offline. Reading aloud to children has been shown to improve reading, writing, communication skills, logical thinking, concentration and general academic aptitude, as well as inspire a lifelong love of reading. You can access free online books for children of all ages by visiting Oxford Owl, Amazon Kindle and Scholastic Online.

2. Guessing Games
Try playing a guessing game together. This is an amazing interactive way to virtually occupy the kids and provide our moms with a chance to rest and recover. You could do this by acting out or drawing an animal or action over a video call. You could also describe a person, place or thing over a phone call. Want to make it even more fun? Get creative by using props from around the house or trying out different voice accents.

3. Play I Spy
I SPY with my little eye is an entertaining and interactive activity to enjoy with your NAN families virtually through video conferencing. Put on your binoculars and begin this mystery game to beat the boredom blues. Your background is your playing field. Try moving into different rooms to change the background and keep it entertaining. Use colours, shapes or riddles as clues. If you don’t have video, encourage the children to describe what they ‘spy’ around them and guess what they see or where they are in the house.

4. Virtual Jam Session
Do you and your NAN kids love music? Think about hosting a virtual jam session with your NAN family. This is an innovative way to engage the kids and continue to provide support to your NAN family as we practice social distancing. Try these tips to make the most of your jam session:

  • Use the instruments you have, or items found around the house to make music together
  • Try different rhythms and beats. Play fast, and then slow. Play something that makes you want to dance, or something to keep you calm
  • Don’t have access to any instruments? Use your voice and have a sing-a-long to your favourite songs
  • Prefer to move to the music rather than make it? Why not have a dance party!
  • Are your NAN kids a little bit shy? Talk about your favourite music, bands or concerts you’ve been to. Play your favourite songs for each other. Or simply stay on the line, listen and enjoy the sounds of music together, yet apart

5. Virtual Tea Party
Feeling a bit parched? Have a virtual tea party! It’s a fun and engaging way to interact with the kids while practicing social distancing. It is time to get this par-TEA started! Right?

  • Think about who will be invited to your tea party? For young children, encourage them to bring their favourite dolls or stuffies
  • Where is your tea party happening? Are you in a café in Paris or in Alice’s Wonderland? Let your imagination run wild
  • Have your NAN kids grown out of the imaginative play stage? Turn your tea date into a game. Play two truths and a lie. Tell two things about yourself that are true, and one that is a lie. Guess which one is the lie. If you get it right, you take a sip of your tea. If you get it wrong, the other person take a sip. The goal is to try to finish your tea/hot chocolate/warm milk before it gets cold!
  • Not into playing games? Your tea date is an awesome time to connect. Use this time to check-in, see how they are doing and learn about their week. It can be helpful to have a few things to share too. Make it a re-occurring date to keep in touch with your NAN kids from a distance

6. At Home Scavenger Hunt
Want a fun activity to entertain the kids with on your virtual visits? Try hosting a scavenger hunt! This is an amazing way to beat the boredom blues and add an interesting twist to their day. To make your quest a bit easier, pick a theme for your hunt like the ABCs or “things you use on a rainy day.” Go around the house together searching for those items. If you are working on the Letter B, maybe you’ll go into the kitchen to find the Bread or go into the bathroom to find the bathtub.See how many things you can find! The scavenger hunt activity will work better on a tablet or a phone rather than a computer so keep this is mind when planning your activities with your NAN kids.

Do you have some great ideas that Nanny Angels can do during a virtual visit? Please let us know by emailing marketing@nannyangelnetwork.com

Nanny Angel Network the grand prize winner of Astellas Oncology 2019 C3 Prize® to Improve Cancer Care

Astellas Pharma US, Inc. (“Astellas”) today announced it has awarded $200,000 in total grants and resources to winners of the fourth annual C3 (Changing Cancer Care) Prize, a challenge that funds the best ideas beyond medicine to improve cancer care for patients, caregivers and their loved ones. Audrey Guth, founder of Nanny Angel Network in Toronto, Canada, was chosen as the 2019 Grand Prize winner.

With the funds from the C3 Prize, Guth intends to expand the reach and impact of Nanny Angel Network, which trains volunteers to care for children whose mothers have cancer. Guth, a cancer survivor and mother of four, established the Nanny Angel Network in 2009 after she found a gap in healthcare and social services for mothers with cancer and their children. The program provides stability, normalcy, and support during a challenging time.

“Moms, particularly in underserved populations, are often forced to choose between caring for their children and going for treatment, and such a serious diagnosis can leave kids feeling sad, scared and anxious,” Guth said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to expand the reach and impact of Nanny Angel Network as we seek to ease the burden of living with cancer for families.”

Leah Werry represents Nanny Angel Network at the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize finals

Three finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, including celebrity entrepreneur and cancer activist Bill Rancic and other leaders in innovation, healthcare and business, during a live pitch event in New York on October 25, 2019. Leah Werry, Kingston Champion of Nanny Angel Network, pitched on Guth’s behalf.

“As the husband of a cancer survivor, a father and a businessman, it is an honor to help select the winning idea and put a spotlight on life-changing cancer care solutions,” Rancic said. “This winning idea is putting the focus on families and providing critical stability for families throughout the ups and downs of a cancer journey.”

This year’s challenge awarded four prizes totaling $200,000 in funds (one Grand Prize of $100,000, two $45,000 Innovation Prizes, and one Emerging Ideas Prize of $10,000). Along with the funding, all winners will have the opportunity to attend TEDMED 2020 as TEDMED Scholars, joining a unique, multidisciplinary community of leading thinkers and doers from across the landscape of health, medicine, and scientific innovation. The winners also will receive a yearlong complimentary membership to MATTER, a global healthcare startup incubator, community nexus and corporate innovation accelerator.

The 2019 Innovation Prize winners are:

  • Daniella Koren of New York, New York, USA, founder of Arches Technology, whose idea is to expand a digital patient education and engagement program called MyCareCompass that provides relevant information and evidence-based education to people impacted by cancer throughout their treatment journey.
  • Leslie Schover of Houston, Texas, USA, founder of Will2Love, whose idea is to tailor self-help programs for men and women to meet the needs of special populations including younger survivors and LGBTQ survivors. Will2Love provides online education and expert guidance to help people impacted by cancer overcome problems with sexual health and fertility, trains oncology professionals to better manage these problems, and consults to hospitals to set up reproductive health programs.

This year, Astellas introduced a new Emerging Ideas Prize to recognize ideas that need additional cultivation before implementation. Abby Westerman of b-present Foundation was selected for this prize and also presented at the live pitch event. Westerman plans to use the Emerging Ideas Prize to extend the reach of b-there, a web-based patient and supporter connection tool to lower the barrier for young adults with cancer to stay connected with friends, offering a quick, easy, low-stress way to control visits, convey status updates, and request needed items.

“Astellas is extremely proud to help advance the inspiring ideas from this year’s winners, who are actively working to transform what it means to live with a cancer diagnosis, and improve the patient experience throughout the cancer journey,” said Mark Reisenauer, senior vice president, Oncology Business Unit at Astellas.

For more information, visit www.C3Prize.com.

About the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize
The Astellas Oncology C3 Prize, launched in 2016, is a global challenge that aims to address the complexities of the cancer journey by funding the best ideas in cancer care beyond medicine. The C3 Prize sparks innovative developments in cancer care, tackling cancer challenges by awarding the winners with prize money and connecting them with resources and support. The C3 Prize directly reflects the mission of Astellas Oncology: striving to make every day better for those impacted by cancer. Astellas maintains no ownership in the ventures funded by the C3 Prize. For more information, visit the website at https://www.C3Prize.com.

About Astellas
Astellas is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. For more information on Astellas, please visit our website at http://www.astellas.us. You can also follow us on Twitter at @AstellasUS, Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AstellasUS or LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/astellas-pharma.

About TEDMED
TEDMED is the independent health and medicine edition of the world-famous TED conference and TED Talks, dedicated to “ideas worth spreading.” TEDMED bridges the gap between science and the public by finding and sharing stories that inform, inspire, engage, and provoke action across a broad, passionate community both inside and outside of health and medicine. Best known for their annual event, TEDMED is a year-round global community. TEDMED is a 501(c)(3) Public Charity.

About MATTER
MATTER is a global healthcare startup incubator, community nexus and corporate innovation accelerator. MATTER mobilizes a community of entrepreneurs, industry innovators, scientists and clinicians committed to improving health and care for every patient.

SOURCE Astellas Pharma US, Inc.

Nanny Angel Network heads to New York City as a finalist for the Astellas Oncology C3 grand prize

(TORONTO, ON – October 9, 2019) – Astellas Pharma US announced the three finalists for its fourth annual C3 (Changing Cancer Care) Prize, a challenge that funds the best ideas beyond medicine to improve cancer care for patients, caregivers and their loved ones.

Nanny Angel Network is thrilled to announce that we have been selected as one of only three finalists for this prestigious award. We are the only Canadian organization selected as a finalist to compete in the final event.

The three grand prize finalists, including NAN, will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges on October 25 during a live event in New York City. NAN’s Kingston Champion Leah Werry will travel to NYC to represent us at the C3 Prize-partner TEDMED event.  

The Astellas Oncology C3 Prize launched in 2016 as a global challenge that aims to address the complexities of the cancer journey by funding the best ideas in cancer care beyond medicine. Nanny Angel Network is proud to be recognized for our existing work to fill the gaps in health and social care and should we win, the Astellas C3 Prize funding will help us in our goal to lessen the impact of cancer on families across Canada and beyond.

More details on how to watch the C3 Prize TEDMED presentation will be shared as we learn them. Please visit www.c3prize.com to learn more about this award.

Talking to Your Children About Cancer

Having conversations with children about cancer are never easy. That’s why for some families, cancer becomes the elephant in the room. Some parents choose not to speak about their diagnosis because they are concerned that these conversations will have a negative impact on their children. However, research shows that children who are given honest information in age appropriate language do much better in the long run. Children who are not given truthful information about a parent’s illness often experience anxiety, trust issues and behavioural problems can surface in adolescence and adulthood.

There are four common things that children often worry about when their mom has cancer.  Did I cause it? Can I catch it? Can I cure it? Who is going to take care of me if mom dies? These simple questions can easily be answered but they require open dialogue with the child and a sense of trust and security. Remember, it’s alright not to have all of the answers to the questions your children pose to you. They will understand.

Below is some information you should consider when deciding how to discuss your diagnosis with your children.

Children Ages 2 and under:

  • Are attune to changes in their routine and separation from their mother.
  • May not grasp the details of the illness however, the earlier they are able to name it as cancer, the better equipped they will be throughout your treatment and recovery.

If you are recovering from surgery or have limited mobility because of treatments, maintain proximity to your child so that he or she can still hear your voice so that you can reassure them.

Children Ages 3-5:

  • Have a basic understanding of what it means to be sick but may not understand what cancer is.
  • They often imagine the worst if they are not given an opportunity to talk about their feelings.

It is important to explain what cancer is in simple terms and assure the child that they didn’t do anything to cause it.

Children Ages 6-12:

  • Can understand more complex explanations of cancer.
  • They often believe what other children tell them. So, it is important to answer their questions truthfully to prevent misinformation.

It is important to reassure them that cancer is not contagious.

Children Ages 13-18:

  • Are beginning to think and act like adults and will understand more complexities about your diagnosis.
  • They may become angry, anxious, rebellious, or insecure. So, it is important to encourage your child to be open about their feelings.

Let them know that it is okay for them to be happy or have fun throughout your treatment. This will help maintain consistency and keep them engaged in activities they enjoy.

At the Nanny Angel Network (NAN) we have developed resources to help parents have conversations about cancer with their children of all ages. In addition, our Nanny Angels follow the parents’ lead when it comes to what they share with children and what language they use.  Our Nanny Angels are always prepared to openly and honestly communicate with the children they care for, creating safe spaces where children feel comfortable opening up and discussing their emotions and ask difficult questions. This in turn allows us to positively impact the long-term emotional and psychological development of these children.

If you are currently receiving service from NAN and would like to speak with your children about cancer, and you are not sure where to begin, please speak with your Nanny Angel. They will be able to help you.

A Network of Angels

Dolce Magazine featured Audrey Guth, Founder of the Nanny Angel Network in their Fall 2018 issue. Audrey speaks about her experience with cancer and what inspired her to create the Nanny Angel Network.

When someone tells you that you have cancer, it is a huge shock. That’s what happened to Audrey Guth. “When I was diagnosed with cancer, it rocked my world,” she says. “You know, everyone feels somewhat omnipotent, and you think, ‘It’s not going to be me.’ And yet, it was me.”

Thank you to Dolce Magazine for raising awareness of NAN.

Read the article.