The Nelson-Kleck Family
In 2014, Monique Kleck was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was intimately familiar with the disease, as it had taken the lives of both her grandmother and her mother. Even so, at 49 and otherwise very healthy, she and her husband, Tom Nelson, were completely blindsided.
Monique immediately began treatment, traveling to Houston for appointments, chemo, radiation and then major surgery. Not knowing what the future would hold, Monique and Tom were extremely concerned for their three children, Kara (12), Erik (10) and Marcella (4), and the impact her illness would have on them. Treatments often left Monique and Tom emotionally and physically exhausted, leaving little room for family life and children.
Several friends and doctors recommended Wonders & Worries, so they scheduled an appointment to meet with Ali Houshmand, a Wonders &Worries child life staff member. “I felt like our children were doing fine already,” said Monique, “But I was so worried about the future, what it would hold, and how to explain my illness.”
We knew we were in great hands. We felt a huge sense of relief that our children would get the support they might need during this difficult time
After meeting Ali, they took a deep breath. “We knew we were in great hands. We felt a huge sense of relief that our children would get the support they might need during this difficult time,” recalled Monique. “I felt overwhelmed with questions about what to tell the kids, how much to say, and how to tell them about my cancer. I wanted to be open and honest, but I also didn’t want to scare them or make them worry.”
The two oldest children, Kara and Erik, met individually with Ali once a week for Wonders & Worries’ six-session program. Monique and Tom consider Ali a huge help in learning how to communicate about the disease with their children. “Our life really was just such an unbelievable whirlwind,” said Monique. “We really didn’t know if I would make it six months.”
Two years have passed since Monique’s diagnosis. Though there is no cure for pancreatic cancer, she is in remission and hopeful.
They give a lot of credit to Ali. “Ali was able to discuss my illness and help answer the children’s questions in a way that was appropriate and helpful. And he did it with them individually, in a kind, safe and understanding environment,” said Monique.
“Getting a cancer diagnosis is stressful no matter what, but as a parent, my overriding concern was for my family and the effects my cancer diagnosis would have on them and their lives,” reflected Monique. “It can be overwhelming and paralyzing, but I’m so grateful to Wonders & Worries and Ali for being there during our difficult time.”
Wonders & Worries families are connected for life. The Nelson family stays in touch with Ali and participates in various Wonders & Worries events. On Oct. 21, Tom Nelson and four of his friends joined the 9th Annual No Worries Classic Clay Shoot to raise awareness and funds for Wonders & Worries.
I’m so grateful to have made it this far and hopeful to keep going! I know Wonders & Worries will be there for my family going forward – no matter what happens. That is all a parent hopes for!
With optimism and gratitude, Monique encourages other families to plug in to Wonders & Worries: “I’m so grateful to have made it this far and hopeful to keep going! I know Wonders & Worries will be there for my family going forward – no matter what happens. That is all a parent hopes for!”