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Cancer patients gear up for Relay for Life with Monkey Business
cancer event pic1
Kids in Monkey Business, an eight-week class for the children of Emanuel Cancer Center patients, performed at a survivors’ reception at Emanuel Cancer Center. The event, called “Take Two,” was the kick-off for Turlock Relay for Life 2011. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN/ The Journal

 Local cancer survivors and their supporters are gearing up for Relay for Life. Emanuel Cancer Center kicked off Turlock’s Relay for Life 2011 with “Take Two,” a survivor reception and a special concert by their Monkey Business children’s group.

Monkey Business is an Emanuel Medical Center support group for children of patients at the Emanuel Cancer Center. It gives children a place to meet other kids who are dealing with a parent’s cancer treatment in a fun and supportive atmosphere. Monkey Business kids play games, do crafts and hang out with other kids.

“It really helps them deal with the idea of cancer and what is happening in their family. It’s very successful because parents will do anything for their kids,” said Amy Richardson, concierge at Emanuel Cancer Center.

Richardson said many cancer patients will not come to support groups, but they will bring their kids to Monkey Business. While the kids are playing and making crafts, the parents are in another room. The experience can be therapeutic for patients as well as their children.

Linda Long attended the Relay for Life premier event to watch her three grandchildren perform with the Monkey Business troop. The kids’ father was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago, and Long said Monkey Business has made a big impact on her family.

“We couldn’t even say the word when we first came here (Emanuel Cancer Center). By the time we left it was okay to talk about cancer. From that day on it was normal for us. The kids felt like life would go on,” Long said.

Long’s grandkids, ages six, 10 and 14, especially enjoyed the “spitball game.” They wetted paper and shot them spit-ball style at targets with words like “angry” and “sad.” It gave them a way to fight back against the emotions they were dealing with on a daily basis.

“The difference (Monkey Business) has made in our family is unbelievable,” Long said.

Richardson said over 50 kids have gone through the Monkey Business eight-week class. Every former Monkey Business participant is invited to Monkey Business reunions, where they can catch up with friends.

 Monkey Business will be performing at Turlock’s Relay for Life on April 16. The event is a 24-hour walk around the Dutcher Middle School track. Teams will raise funds for the American Cancer Society and the fight against cancer. Teams will have on-site fundraisers as well as cancer survivor gear and relay memorabilia for sale. “Take Two” was the official kick-off of Relay for Life Turlock, and there are many upcoming team fundraisers listed at the Turlock Relay for Life Web site,

To contact Andrea Goodwin e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.