From Shy Student to Strong Teacher
Nick, Age 14
Nick was 4-and-a-half years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His mother, Wendy, was confident in the ability of her son’s doctors at the Michigan Cancer Institute, but was in search of something to keep him strong emotionally and psychologically as well. When he was about 6 years old, they discovered Kids Kicking Cancer, where Nick learned relaxation and pain management techniques, as well as martial arts training.
“I can’t imagine going through the whole treatment process without Kids Kicking Cancer,” Wendy says. “Chemotherapy was important because it kept him alive physically but karate kept him alive emotionally.”
When Nick first joined Kids Kicking Cancer, Wendy wasn’t sure how it would go. “He’s always been very shy so it was a huge deal for him to start this program because he didn’t know anyone.” However, once he started the weekly martial arts training, Wendy noticed an improvement both physically and mentally. She says that Nick’s immune system strengthened, and he seemed braver and more confident.
Nick’s favorite part of the program has been learning karate moves, “especially the punches!” Nick’s two sisters and brother also got involved with the program, which provided them with valuable family time. Wendy says all four children immediately connected with the instructors, whom they view as “powerful yet gentle role models.”
“Power breathing really helps when you need it. The instructors will come and help you during treatment if you want them to,” says Nick.
Ten years later, Nick is now 14 years old and cancer-free. He is still an active member of the Kids Kicking Cancer community and practices karate frequently. He also enjoys playing video games and Legos. Nick and his siblings have accompanied Kids Kicking Cancer founder Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg to various corporations in the greater Michigan area to teach others the power of mind and body.
“Kids Kicking Cancer helped me through my treatment and the program is one of the best I’ve seen out of all the karate programs,” says Nick. “The instructors are the nicest people and Rabbi G is really nice too.”
Today, Nick and his siblings frequently apply their training to everyday life. Wendy herself even used the breathing techniques during childbirth.
Whenever Nick feels frustrated over schoolwork or needs to get blood drawn during a check-up, he remembers to do his breathing. His sister used similar techniques after breaking her ankle during a sledding accident. “We were expecting her to scream when they had to set her bone into place but she just breathed through it,” says Wendy.
“There are social, emotional and physical aspects of cancer treatment. It’s hard for oncologists to deal with all the levels of humanity and Kids Kicking Cancer fills in the gaps. It provides children with a sense of belonging and little bit of control,” says Wendy.