The Ohana Project
Today, more children survive cancer diagnoses than ever before. But the cancer treatments that save their lives also lead to devastating health problems for the rest of their lives [1-3]. Our goal at MaxLove Project is to ensure that every child fighting cancer thrives in treatment and beyond. In 2017, our MaxLove Leadership Team decided to bring all of MLP’s programs together into one 12-week program that would connect families into small groups and support them as they learn about BE SUPER Actions that have been shown to improve quality of life and reduce survivorship health risks. To do this, we teamed up with Ruth McCarty, LAc, (Clinical Director of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture at CHOC Children’s Hospital) and a team of highly regarded pediatric clinicians to design and rigorously study the program in families of pediatric brain tumor patients. We call it “The Ohana Project” because in Hawaiian culture, “Ohana” means family. The program is targeted at whole-family health, is built on connecting cancer families with one another, and recognizes that everyone affected by childhood cancer is part of one big family.
SUPPORTING THE WHOLE FAMILY
Focused on the whole family, this 3-month program aims to dramatically improve the short- and long-term health of all children fighting cancer by engaging parents and children alike in tailored integrative therapies (such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage); culinary training; small-group facilitated social support; and expert-led instruction in behavioral and psycho-social health. Each cohort of Ohana Families will be followed closely in order to hone and develop this revolutionary "Ohana Protocol" for children and families around the world.
The Small Group Approach
The science shows that peer support not only directly improves health, but it helps us engage in actions that make us healthier, stronger, and happier. The Ohana Project connects parents into small groups based on their child’s diagnosis and facilitates the natural peer support that childhood cancer parents provide one another.
The most powerful health behaviors, such as diet, exercise, and healthy sleep habits, are almost impossible to practice if we and our children are fatigued, in pain, and/or nauseated. Integrative therapies such as acupuncture and massage can greatly alleviate these side effects, making BE SUPER Actions easier to engage in.
Based on our BE SUPER Action Plan, The Ohana Project brings in experts in diet, health cooking, exercise, sleep, meditation, and psycho-social wellness to teach parents how to engage in BE SUPER Actions in simple and kid-friendly ways. Parents use this expert knowledge in online small groups to support one another in making these life-changing transformations.
Thanks to Our Partners
Special thanks to MaxLove Project donors as well as the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and the Angels Baseball Foundation for funding portions of the Ohana pilot study. Our deepest thanks to CHOC Children’s Hospital for their partnership and collaboration. With their continued support, we are modifying and studying the program in adolescent and young adult survivors and leukemia patients.
1. Oeffinger KC, et al. Chronic Health Conditions in Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 2006;355(15):1572-1582. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa060185Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMsa060185.
2. Armstrong GT, et al. Aging and Risk of Severe, Disabling, Life-Threatening, and Fatal Events in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2014;32(12):1218-27. doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.51.1055.
3. Phillips SM, et al. Survivors of Childhood Cancer in the United States: Prevalence and Burden of Morbidity. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. 2015;24(4):653-663. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-1418.