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Caring for a newly diagnosed child going through a medical journey can be scary and overwhelming. Especially when finding resources meant to support you, like Child Life Specialists, requires extensive research and planning.

This is why I am so grateful to our guest today, Jenna Kmitch, for courageously sharing what her process looks like beside her daughter Sydney, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma just a few weeks after birth.

Jenna is the founder of Love Smiles, an organization dedicated to bringing moments of peace and joy to families with pediatric cancer through stories.

Today, she shares her experience and advice on navigating surgeries, treatments, PICU stays, and returning home and how to enjoy parenthood through it all. Jenna found joy in her journey by leaning on her baby’s resilience and the community and medical staff that showed up for her, and she hopes to inspire others to do the same.

Key Takeaways with Jenna Kmitch

  • The challenges of becoming a mom during a pandemic
  • Navigating a baby’s cancer diagnosis
  • Processing the risks & results of infant surgery
  • The role of child life specialists in the PICU
  • How to lean on nurses and doctors for additional support
  • The stages of grieving a diagnosis
  • Finding yourself as a mom during caretaking

Jenna Kmitch Tweetables

  • “Child life specialists came every day, I didn’t know what to ask for. On day five they came in with a mobile and bouncy seat for her. Never in my life would I have known to ask for that.” – Jenna Kmitch
  • “The nurses are what saved me, they don’t even know how important they were to me that day.” – Jenna Kmitch
  • “When are you just a mom? For me that came when we were reading books at night, I read to Sydney every day. That’s the 5-minute moment that would carry me through the next day.” – Jenna Kmitch
  • “Sometimes we underestimate how much a hug can mean to somebody else. You see someone in pain and with heightened concern, there is power in just showing up for other human beings.” – Jamie Freedlund


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