ST. LOUIS – Thanks to the Siteman Cancer Center, some St. Louis-area children sharing a special bond reunited with “HUGS.”

The children all share the experience of helping their mother or grandmother through breast cancer, and through a program at the Siteman Cancer Center they’ve been able to understand the emotional aspects of the disease. On Monday, July 9, many saw each other again at the first “HUGS Reunion.”

Now in its sixth year, the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine offers HUGS (an acronym for “Help Us Give Support”) as a unique program helping children between the ages of five and twelve understand breast cancer, express their feelings and find ways to be supportive to their mother or grandmother.

The reunion brought together over 40 children out of the almost 100 who participated in the program over the past six years.

“This is an important resource for the women of St. Louis who are dealing with breast cancer,” says Teresa Deshields, PhD, director of psycho-oncology services at the Siteman Cancer Center and clinical coordinator of HUGS. “By providing support to the children who are important to them over the past six years, I feel we’ve helped make their journey to survivorship a little smoother.”

Fredbird and Silly Jilly the clown helped entertain the former HUGS participants. The program was created by the Siteman Cancer Center, through funding by Susan G. Komen for the Cure and St. Louis Cardinals Care. The program is also sponsored by the St. Louis Public Library, Hardee’s and Imo’s Pizza.

In the fall, HUGS will expand to offer support for other cancers, in addition to breast. For more information, call Siteman's Barnard Health and Cancer Information Center at 314-362-7844.

More information:

Coping with the Emotional Impact of Cancer, a podcast featuring Dr. DeShields