Read to your kids to develop a strong family bond and instill in them a lifetime love of learning. It's a simple message from our educators, but not so simple for families where a parent or other caregiver is stricken by cancer.
Taking time to focus on the children can take last place on the priority list when hospital visits, doctor's visits, and treatments take up all the patients' energy, leaving kids scared, hurt, angry, or just plain confused.
The Light One Little Candle Foundation was created by Connecticut mother Joelle Pauporté, a psychiatrist who was fighting breast cancer and wanted to leave a legacy of memories and life lessons for her young daughter, Halle.
Light One Little Candle is designed to encourage cancer patients who are also caregivers to continue to bond with their children throughout their illness by reading books together that have nothing to do with cancer. The idea is for patients to get lost in classic and funny stories about life, like The Velveteen Rabbit, Winnie-the-Pooh and The Little Prince.
The Foundation's goal is to work with hospitals and cancer centers all over the country to provide new children's books to interested patients who want to make the most of the time they spend with their children. It is currently operating in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, California, Maine, Utah, Maryland and New Jersey.
The name of the foundation, Light One Little Candle, stems from a lullaby that Joelle sang to Halle since she was born. It begins, "It is better to light just one little candle than to stumble in the dark..."
Joelle died in 2005 at age 36 when Halle was just 4, but her legacy of bonding through books lives on through the foundation.
The Light One Little Candle Foundation successfully obtained nonprofit status soon after her death and is run by family and friends who want to continue Joelle's work.
The book program is designed to help make memories for adults and the children will hold onto for a lifetime. The books may be inscribed from caregiver to child, using the Light One Little Candle bookplates provided in each book.
At present, 14 hospital and counseling organizations are accepting donations and distributing new books on behalf of the Foundation. These include:
- Hartford Hospital's Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Center
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
- Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women's Cancer Center
- Massachusetts General Hospital
- MidState Medical Center
- Middlesex Hospital
- Lawrence & Memorial Hospital
- Moores UCSD Cancer Center
- The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing at Central ME Medical Center
- Cache Valley CancerTreatment
- The Mount Sinai Hospital
- Gilda's Club of Northern New Jersey
- University of Maryland Medical Center
Each patient who participates can choose a new book to bring home to share with his or her child; the book is theirs to keep. A wide range of books in both English, Spanish and a variety of languages are being offered for children of all ages.
Light One Little Candle has grown from the modest idea of one mother to one that has collected thousands of books.
Joelle Pauporté, MD
Joseph Wagner, MD
Co-President and Treasurer
Michele Pauporté, MD
Board of Directors
Joyce Pauporté, MD