Cancer…When It Hits Home

| October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

Dad Shares His Story About His Daughter with Cancer

Last month, I learned briefly about the Seany Foundation, an organization that offers programs for children affected by cancer. These programs are free to relieve the financial burden of cancer and give families the opportunity to connect with those faced with a similar situation.

I also learned about a father whose daughter had cancer and who benefitted from the programs offered, especially Seany’s Camp Reach for the Sky – an annual camping adventure bringing happiness to kids affected by cancer. Kids can have fun, feel “normal” and discover themselves with the company and support of peers experiencing similar struggles, while nurturing the mind, body, and spirit through time outdoors in nature. 

Peter Schroder said his daughter, Kimi Schroder, was eight-years old when she began at the camp. She attended for four years and was 12-years old when she passed away.

When asked what prompted his daughter to join the Seany Foundation camp, Peter offered, “The Seany Foundation is always well-advertised at the clinic. A couple of her favorite nurses at Rady Children’s Hospital were also volunteers at the camp, and they talked a lot about how fun and great it was.”

Peter said that Kimi was excited about it and really wanted to go. For her it was the first time ever that she would go somewhere and be away from her dad for the entire week. She was daddy’s little girl, but she loved to exert her independence.

He said the big selling point for him was that she was in the throws of a very difficult treatment her first year. There’s no way he could have sent her to any other camp, anywhere, because of her medical needs. However, knowing that she could be with her nurses and oncologists who would be there 24/7 during the week, gave him peace of mind, and she was determined to go.

Peter offered, “She was going through a very difficult treatment, sick the entire weekend before, and she assured me she was fine to go. Looking back on it, it was the best decision I ever made. I expected a tearful goodbye or hesitation, and she just took off as soon as she got out of the car.”

Then I asked Peter was there anything in particular that the camp offered that she was able to gain from this experience.

He said, “It’s hard to pin down one thing. There are so many activities that she loved. She loved swimming. However, a few things always stuck out, especially the rock climbing wall. She was always a bit of an adventurer. She was so proud that she made it to the top of the most difficult wall, which gave her such an incredible sense of accomplishment.”

Bonding with other young girls was also one of the major benefits. Peter offered, “Being in a cabin with eight girls and having those friendships and bonds… of whatever eight, nine and 10-year-olds talk about at 10 p.m. at night…was so vital to her. She missed out on so many opportunities, like sleepovers with friends, and this gave that to her.”

Peter said that Kimi loved to sing, and loved to dance. She especially enjoyed ballet, guitar and piano lessons. One of the highlights of the camp was the talent show.

He added, “Every year, she would get one or two of the counselors to do ballet performances. The videos of these male counselors in tutus are hysterical. Laughter is an important benefit of the camp.”

In one of the photographs that Peter provided, Kimi is holding a disco ball trophy.  I asked him what she did to win this award.

Peter answered, “The Seany Foundation hosts an annual dance during camp called Dancing with the ROC Stars. Two years ago, she came home off the bus holding the trophy.”

He said it was super exciting for Kimi. During the Dancing with the ROC Stars dance competition, Kimi would always grab one of the counselors to dance. Counselor Stevie is 6’4″ and a very large man, and there’s a video of him and four-foot tall Kimi dancing, with a smile from ear to ear. He’s lifting her up, spinning her around, and they’re doing all these wonderful dance moves.

According to Peter, “The biggest benefit of the program is her relationship with these counselors, more so than her peers. That has always been a trait of Kimi; she gravitates toward older people. All of the counselors became very good friends with her, and subsequently, with me.”

I then asked Peter what motivates him to continue with the Seany Foundation, especially since Kimi has passed away.

Peter offered that this was not just one week per year. Her contacts and connections with the counselors and volunteers continued throughout the year. Every single time she was in the hospital, she would ask when the counselors were coming. And they would visit for one or two hours. They would tell funny stories from camp, rag on each other, talk about what’s going to happen at the upcoming camp.

He added, “That was the most lasting takeaway from me is all of the lasting friendships she was able to forge. They truly are an incredible group of people.”

Peter then shared with me that a large percentage of the counselors are cancer survivors.

Peter said he would say to Kimi, “You can’t undersell that connection they have – no one else knows what you’re going through.”

He added, counselors have said they’ve been doing this for 10 to 20 years, and there’s only one to two kids who get in your heart and create a special place. Kimi is one of those individuals.

Peter offered, “Adults would say to me ‘your daughter changed my life.’ As a parent, that’s the most amazing thing you could ever hear. That’s why for me, for Kimi, camp was so incredibly special. She loved every single one of them and every event throughout the year.”

Peter continued, “After she passed away, I could have very easily have said I’m done with all of this. But even since she’s passed, I feel that I want to stay involved with The Seany Foundation, with camp and all the things they do.”

Peter shared, “They have been, and will continue to be, an important part of my family.”

He is planning on putting a team together in Kimi’s name, for one of the fundraisers they hold.  To learn more about the Seany Foundation, visit

Kimi Schroder has her face painted at Seany’sCamp Reach for the Sky.

Tags: , ,

Category: featured, Local News

About the Author ()