Alberto Quesada, a Child Life volunteer in Radiation Oncology since November 2015, spends his time engaging with children in fun activities meant to distract them from the reason they’re at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Quesada said he also tries to engage with parents and caregivers, as well.
“Sometimes, I am also able to connect with the parents who need to be given something to take their minds away from the issues they are dealing with,” Quesada said.
He said he wants families and children to feel as comfortable as possible while they wait for their appointment in the Radiation Oncology area and playroom.
“I speak Spanish, as well, and that is helpful since some St. Jude families only speak Spanish. I know there is some comfort being able to speak to someone in your first language,” Quesada said.
Quesada said he first heard about St. Jude when a family friend’s son became a patient here.
“During his treatment and visiting him in the hospital, I became aware of the amazing work that St. Jude does. I wanted to be able to help them on their mission of saving children from cancer,” Quesada said.
In the Radiation Oncology playroom, Quesada draws, paints and plays games with the children to distract them from the issues they may be dealing with.
“As we paint or draw they smile and begin to talk and play. This is the best. For a few minutes they are just children playing,” Quesada said. “Before they leave they will give me a hug and ask if I will be there tomorrow. It is special if I am able to ensure they have a little bit of fun during their stay.”
Quesada said he understands these children would not be at St. Jude unless they were dealing with a difficult and painful health condition. His goal in Radiation Oncology is to provide a place where the kids can play and take their minds off treatment.
“They get a chance to do something kids anywhere do regularly,” Quesada said. “All parents want to see their children smile, and I do think they relax just a bit seeing their children playing.”
Quesada said he loves decorating the walls of the play area with artwork made by the children he meets and plays with in Radiation Oncology. He has also volunteered for the Special Olympics organization, and enjoys spending time with his family.