In 2013, when Nathan Alonso was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, his families’ life was upended. Instead of making a planned move to Texas, they focused all of their energy on helping their oldest son through his complex treatment. With weekly trips from their Morgan Hill home to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, they had little time to think of anything else.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Coastal Kids admitted Nathan to Palliative Care, a program designed to support his physical and emotional wellbeing and offer additional support to his parents and siblings. According to Social Worker Ruth Shapiro, “Nathan and his younger brother Xavi loved art therapy. It’s such a great thing we offer because when kids are 5 and younger, talk therapy does not work the way art does. Through art, children can express themselves and in some ways it is the best way an adult will understand what they are going through.”
Nathan’s mom Lizette appreciated Coastal Kids family-centered, child-friendly care. “[The art therapist] would come once a week with lots of different coloring paper,” says Lizette. “The boys had a chance to express themselves and it really would help distracting Nathan from being in the hospital for such long periods of time.” Consistency was also important to Lizette, “Other [providers] were one time things, but Coastal Kids was with us throughout Nathan’s entire illness,” she says. “I enjoyed [the services] because it was a time to also let my husband and I unwind after being at the hospital 24/7. It was especially nice to see how the therapist would put her attention on both of the kids.”
At the end of 2014, once Nathan was through treatment, the Alonso family finally made their planned move to Texas - and said their goodbyes to beloved nurses and therapists. However, even from afar, Lizette is still an avid follower of Coastal Kids. She frequently “likes” and “reposts” pictures from Instagram. Staying connected with families like the Alonsos is great - it is fantastic seeing our Coastal Kids like Nathan moving on. Today he is in sixth grade and is celebrating five-years cancer free. He loves soccer and prior to COVID-19, he had the opportunity to visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports for a soccer tournament with Xavi, where their teams both faced teams from all over the world.
“Other [providers] were one time things, but Coastal Kids was with us throughout Nathan’s entire illness,” Lizette says. “I enjoyed [the services] because it was a time to also let my husband and I unwind after being at the hospital 24/7. It was especially nice to see how the therapist would put her attention on both of the kids.”