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Advice From A Wish Family: Pediatrician Shelly

Shelly Flais is a pediatrician, clinical professor at Northwestern University, and wish parent. Last year, her daughter Nancy was diagnosed with cancer. Chemotherapy began almost right away and support staff referred the Flais family to Make-A-Wish Illinois.
If anyone knows about the challenges brought upon by changing routines and a newly enforced lifestyle, it’s Shelly.

Wish families constantly have to adapt and take careful precautions when it comes to their child’s illness.

“The whole theme of cancer or any medically complex situation is ‘roll with it.’ Take information as it comes. Every wish family has that kind of a mind-set,” says Shelly.

Today, COVID-19 has caused millions of Americans to completely change their way of living. Whether they’re working remotely, having to home-school their children, or are at the frontlines caring for those who are ill, they’re experiencing a new way of life.

Shelly had a few tips and encouraging words for wish families and everyone going through an especially hard time at the moment:

• Get a daily schedule going to form a type of normalcy
• Check in on yourself to see how you’re feeling
• Get sunshine, fresh air, and exercise while remaining at least 6 feet apart
• Avoid playgrounds and public parks
• Ditch the additional screen-time by assigning “off-time” so families can spend time together
• Try opting for a board game or puzzle instead of a video game
• Be silly, be goofy, and try to keep your spirits high

It’s especially important that families with infants maintain their essential pediatrician visits. If you’re not feeling well, please call your doctor and discuss your symptoms with them before headed to the office or hospital.

Shelly also wants to remind parents to be kind to themselves. With social media, it’s easy to compare yourself to how others are using their time. She recommends checking in on yourself and your kids by having open conversation.

Nancy has shown an exemplary attitude and is a source of inspiration on handling challenging times.She went from running her personal best in Cross Country to undergoing months of chemotherapy. She is in remission as of December 2019 and despite her hard-ships Nancy still has a wacky sense of humor and energy to her.

She’s looking forward to beginning high school in the fall but says that the stay at home order isn’t so bad because it gives her a chance to grow her hair out again, a comment that makes Shelly laugh.

“It just goes to show that children are far more resilient than we may think,” says Shelly.

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