When her young son is diagnosed with cancer, Ya-el prepares him for the fight of his life. Little did she know that a trip to Walmart would birth an innovative idea that would bring joy to thousands battling childhood cancer across the globe …
Upon hearing the words: "Your son has cancer". My world shattered.
My husband and I were sitting in a small hospital room after a long night of scans and other exams. We knew something was off by watching the doctors' faces - but we weren't ready for this diagnosis. It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. How could this be?
Treatment began immediately.
My three-and-a-half-year-old son lay flat on his back. His tiny, peanut size body morphed by the huge hospital bed, a white canvas of coldness. His arms hung limp by his side, he lay helpless, hooked up to machines with wires attached to his body.
He’d endured his first round of chemotherapy.
I took a deep breath. How much more could I take? I was completely broken. I, myself, a two-time cancer survivor, had only been given the clear of cervical cancer two months prior. I had fought and won. But now, my dear sweet son.
I knew what was coming. He’d lose weight, he’d lose his hair, he would be dealing with isolation. He wouldn’t understand. I could be here for him, but I couldn’t fight for him.
You’ll have to be strong and fight my dear son.
I had fought and won. But now, my dear sweet son. I knew what was coming...
Tears welled up in my eyes. I needed to get out of the hospital room. I needed a breather, a moment to fix my head before I returned to face the biggest fight of my life.
I rushed out of the hospital, jumped in the car and drove, until I came to Walmart.
I walked the isles of Walmart, my mind racing, I was preparing to reset, to start a new fight. It was time to re-organise my mind and life to fit the new reality we were facing. I started picking up toys and items that I thought would bring a sense of home to my son’s hospital room.
I was creating my son's very own childhood cancer battle team ...
Up and down the isles I walked. Until I came to the isle of bed-sheets. I stopped. My mind flashed to the image of my little boy sitting in his hospital room. I picked up two sets of sheets with his favorite characters - Star Wars and Spongebob. I headed to the checkout with renewed energy. I was on my way back to the hospital with Luke Skywalker on hand, ready to destroy the death-star.
I was on my way back to the hospital with Luke Skywalker on hand, ready to destroy the death-star.
With the hospital’s permission, I ripped off the white sheets on my son’s bed and replaced them with his new sheets that felt more like home. Wow! The smile on my son’s face when he saw his favorite characters. It was as if Lukeskywalker and Spongebob with his mates had shown up as his own battle team.
Others in the hospital also noticed the difference ...
Sick children in hospital are scared, they want to go home. They don’t want to be prodded and poked by strangers or asked a lot of questions they don’t understand. Nurses and doctors commented on how much easier the sheets made their job, helping them to communicate with the children. Breaking the ice.
“Oh, how is Spongebob today?” or “Oh, so I see you like Star Wars”. The sheets helped the hospital staff get their job done so much more easily and happily.
Then there was the sick little girl I’ll never forget. She was about five years old at the time. As she passed my son’s hospital room, she spotted his Spongebob sheets. She stopped, looking at me hopeful, “Where do you get those sheets?”
“We brought these sheets from home sweetie.” I answered, feeling sad that she didn’t have a set of her own.
As she walked back to her room, I thought to myself. That little girl should have some nice sheets too. All the children in hospital should have a set of sheets from home.And so, the idea for the “Sheets from Home” charity was birthed.
My husband and I promised ourselves that once we could - we would help other families who are fighting childhood cancer.
In 2011 our dream came true. After eighteen months of fighting a courageous battle beating childhood cancer, we were ready to help others. A dear friend gave us a head-start with a big surprise. He put on a party and asked everyone to bring new sheet-sets for children!
“Sheets From Home” was launched.
Our Goal > help ease the pain of childhood cancer patients and make them feel at home while undergoing treatments in the hospital.
We started collecting sheets and donating them to the hospitals where my son was treated. In 2015 “Sheets From Home” became an official non-profit charity and began expansion across the country.
Since then, my work with Sheets from Home has become my full-time passion.
I’ve seen the difference Sheets from Home makes to sick children struggling in hospital. Some hospitals give children a set of Sheets from Home after a special procedure – when they really need a boost. Other hospitals will host a “sheets party”, where they bring the sheets into the room on a wagon for the children to choose from.
Out of respect for privacy, we usually drop the sheets directly to the hospital child-life specialist. But on one memorable occasion I was invited to a ‘sheets party’ where I experienced the joy first-hand.
As the wagon of “Sheets from Home” rattled toward the ward, I stood back and watched. The wheels came to a halt, the children’s eyes lit up, they moved forward, curious, excited to pick out their own set of sheets.
One child stood out to me. He was about my sons age. He rushed forward and picked out a set of superhero sheets. He looked up to his mother, beaming with happiness, his face brighter than it was just minutes prior.
His mother turned and looked at me with eyes only a mother who has had a child with cancer can know, “This is the happiest and the most active he’s been in a while. Thank you so much.”
That was a special moment and I tear up thinking about it. These moments show me, that all the efforts of “Sheets from Home” is worthwhile. These children keep my mission alive.
My mission: To brighten a child's face one hospital stay at a time.
Do You #GiveaSheet?
Cancer has no boundaries, and this is exactly why we would love to see SHEETS FROM HOME happening in other parts of the globe too. It would mean the world to see other people doing the same for kids in their countries.
Here’s three ways you can help:
- Monetary Donation: click here to donate via Paypal
- Start an ONLINE sheets-raiser: click here to find out how to start an ONLINE sheets raiser
- Start a LOCAL sheets raiser: click here to find out how to start a LOCAL sheets-raiser
Want to Connect with Ya-el and
The Sheets From Home Charity? ...
Thanks for sharing this inspiring article which can help many to decide on the choices they make for fighting this deadly disease.
Reading the first few lines made me teary-eyed. I’m a mom too, I can imagine how painful it was when you knew about it. I admire you and your husband, especially your little boy for fighting hard to be better.
And the campaign though is a great idea, I’m happy you’d fulfilled it. More power to you and that all the family and kids you’ll reached out will recover too and feel better.
This is an amazing initiative! I don’t even want to think about how hard it must be when your child gets such a dangerous diagnosis – a true nightmare! It’s great that a relatively easy gesture can bring them a ray of light <3
What an inspiring story! Something as simple as a set of sheets can indeed brighten life for these children. I’m glad to hear your son recovered!
Thank you for growing this idea into a formidable resource to help children if cancer best the beast!
Such an amazing idea. Having just spent yesterday in hospital with my little one having her tonsils and adenoids out I can see how having some home comforts would make the world of difference. For children having to spend so long in hospital it must make a big difference.
This is such a sweet story!!! 😍 I’m afraid back in my country not many hospital would allow this, though. They say “hygiene issues”, or something. Which is a pity. Small actions make the difference, you’re doing a great job 🙂
That’s interesting. What country are you from? The charity provides brand new sheets I’m not sure how that would post a hygiene issue?
Such an important story to share. So many people think of cancer as not a child’s disease. Such resiliency in your son and your family to deal with this.
O wow I can’t imagine what it would be like to find out your son had cancer! You are so strong! You’re a hero
What a great idea! So important to give these kids something to make them feel more at home. Amazing work!
I love this idea! I haven’t heard of this before. Thank you for bringing the awareness to this incredible charity!
Wow, you have amazing strength and what an incredible way to give back. I am going to pop over to your website and see how I can help
What an amazing idea this is!!! I am so happy I read your post and am now aware of this incredible charity. Keep doing great things!!!!!
Awwn… The comfort and joy it brings to put a smile on someone’s face is unexplainable. Between I read somewhere that carrot juice destroys cancer cells 1 litre a day. Results start showing from as early as the 8th week. You can read it up.