Adolescence is already a difficult time for teens who want to have their own personal space and establish their own identity. When teens are struggling with a disease such as cancer in addition to the normal challenges of their age, it can make coping with the disease that much harder. In order to fulfill this need and help improve the quality of life of teenage cancer patients, the Carson Leslie Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to Children’s Medical Center of Dallas to dedicate a space especially for teenagers.
The Dallas, Texas-based Carson Leslie Foundation is committing the $100,000 in funding to enable over 400 teenagers being treated for cancer every year at the Children’s Medical Center Foundation to have a space of their own. The foundation was created in honor of Carson Leslie, who died from cancer when he was only 17 years old, and his mother, Annette Leslie, knows how much time teenage patients have to spend in the hospital due to the disease.
“Carson was a giver at heart,” said Annette Leslie, who serves as executive director of the foundation. “He insisted that his cancer-filled brain be studied with the hope of helping the next kid diagnosed with cancer. He also kept a journal, in which he wrote: ‘I felt deserted and lonely… I am not looking for some deep meaningful conversation; I am just looking for a conversation. The weather will work.’ ”
Keenly aware of the feelings of loneliness experienced by her son, Annette Leslie and the Carson Leslie Foundation created a teen room on the cancer floor at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, called Carson’s Corner. This space was particularly designed for hospitalized teenagers and is intended to be a place where they can be together to talk about friends, music, movies, or other topics people their age are interested in.
“Crafts, games, movies, music and fun occur each day and provide a relaxed atmosphere where teens can independently relax, meet one another and have fun,” explained Melinda Goff, Child Life Team Leader at Children’s. “I couldn’t help but think about Carson and how happy he would have been in there and how his life inspires us. He is continuing to impact people with his legacy and is making life better for these teens.”
According to Annette Leslie, impacting other people’s lives with the legacy of her son Carson was the main purpose of the foundation, which was created after his death. “It’s the teens themselves who are the only ones that can truly understand the fears, burdens and concerns of being a teen with cancer. We think Carson would have enjoyed a little corner of the hospital to gather with other teens, and it is our absolute joy to give these teens Carson’s Corner,” she stated.