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The Play-Doh That Killed Cancer Cells

I believe that Play-Doh ate away at my son’s leukemia cells in 1988. We could count them die each time Rich made monsters from the Doh that ate up the cancer cells. It seemed like a fun game when the play therapist came in and asked my 14 year-old son to play with the Play-Doh. After all, he was too grown up to play with this. I thought it was demeaning. But a word against the day’s play therapy activity was not leaving my lips. Worn with worry and tired from restless nights I was prepared to allow any misguided person to attempt to make a mark in the war against the cells that were taking over my son’s body.

Rich looked at me for assurance that this was really what he should be doing on his hospital bed that fall day at Yale-New Haven Hospital. The play therapist was jolly and overly enthusiastic. We were not and she could tell. But like so much that happens when you are in these horrible situations, you go along hoping everything will be okay and instead you just pray it will not leave a negative impression.

So Rich made monsters and he made cancer cells out of the colorful Play-Doh. With the encouragement of the play therapist, Rich enacted out a little skit where the monsters ate the cancer cells. I watched this while feeling great pity on Rich for being treated like a little boy. I did not say a thing except to encourage him.

Rich was polite and gentle as he always was in these situations and he did as he was told. The play therapist said that the play dough monsters would help Rich feel that he had someone on his side to fight off the leukemia. I prayed that it would work even if it was overly psychological. If Rich’s mind would influence his body to fight hard to kill the leukemia that ravished his body I would support it.

The next day Dr. Beardsley came into his room and told us his counts had improved and that the leukemia cells had decreased. I was shocked and Rich was elated. It was the first good news we had heard in a long time. We repeated this two more times and each time we received the same results. It was a miracle and one that we both gladly accepted.

Rich eventually went into remission and had a bone marrow transplant. He did not play with Play-Doh any more. He unfortunately relapsed and died in 1989. I wonder if we should have stocked up on Play-Doh. Who knows? But I am convinced that play therapy is like a medicine for the mind and that play therapists are the angels from heaven. That one of the reasons I established Art Bags For Kids. This program will bring art to children who are sick or disabled. Art Bags For Kids will bring happiness to children and maybe will heal in some way as well, if even just to bring a smile to their faces.

This program will be supported by the Richard D. Frisbee III Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) public charity.