MELISSA DELANEY-DOLINER FELT LOST when her son, Colin, was diagnosed with Burkitt leukemia at age 14 in 2014. No longer a child but not yet an adult, Colin was treated for the rare, fast-growing blood cancer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where playrooms stocked with kid-sized furniture were the norm.

When the family discovered there was a lack of programming and mental health services for teens, they vowed to fill that void. “We had always talked throughout his treatment about starting a foundation to help other teenagers,” says Delaney-Doliner, of Oreland, Pennsylvania. A few months after Colin died in April 2018, they established the MIP Foundation. The organization takes its name from its ethos: that every teenage oncology patient is the “Most Important Person” in their treatment plan.

Teen Perspectives

Several national and international organizations are dedicated to helping teens with cancer.

Teen Cancer America partners with hospitals to develop standards for age-targeted care, encourage collaboration between pediatric and adult specialists, and enable specialized research to improve outcomes for young people.

Stupid Cancer connects members of the young adult cancer community to resources and peers who understand what they are going through.

The U.K.’s Teenage Cancer Trust provides materials for teens facing a cancer diagnosis, as well as their loved ones.

The MIP Foundation offers support that takes into account that mental wellness is different for each individual. This support includes services like inpatient room makeovers, programs designed to engage teens and young adults, art activities and care packages.

Packaged With Care

The MIP Foundation offers care packages to patients. Each one includes a book about cancer written from a young adult perspective, a mindfulness journal, inspirational posters and comfy socks, plus personal items customized according to each patient’s requests. If you would like to help out by purchasing an item, the MIP Foundation has an Amazon wishlist.

Currently, the organization works with CHOP and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, both located in Philadelphia. Many volunteers from the region have decided to lend a hand. “People have really connected with Melissa’s voice and her story,” says Diane Smith, director of operations of the MIP Foundation.

The MIP Foundation is also working toward providing grants to help patients pay for mental health services, which are often not covered by insurance. Colin was fortunate to receive donations from community members to pay for mental health therapy. “It was a huge gift that our family got, and I want to be able to give that back to others,” says Delaney-Doliner.