Ben & Jerry’s / Camp Kesem

Once a year, Ben & Jerry’s holds a Free Cone Day, where celebrants are encouraged to contribute to a local charity in exchange for free ice cream.

My husband Les treats this occasion like a national holiday and marks it on his calendar every year. Today is especially good for me because my next chemo infusion is tomorrow and I won’t be able to eat solid food for three days. For a change, I actually need extra calories.

At Ben & Jerry’s District at Tustin Legacy Jamboree store, the non-profit organization is Camp Kesem (, a free one-week camp for children whose parents have cancer. Kesem means “magic” in Hebrew. Students from UC Irvine have a table with pamphlets and talk to people at the front of the ice cream line.

When I go through the line the second time, I pick up a pamphlet to read while eating at an outdoor wrought iron table. I can’t imagine what a young child feels watching a beloved parent get sick and sometimes die. The enormity of the situation overwhelms me. The enormity of cancer overwhelms me.

The third time through the line, I pull out a dollar from my purse. My hands are shaking so badly I can’t fit the bill in the slot of the cardboard box. Les takes the money, folds it, and deposits it in the box. The student thanks me but I know if I talk to her or make eye contact, I’ll start to cry. I tell Les to contribute, too.

I wake up an hour early Wednesday morning before my infusion, still thinking about Camp Kesem. I ache for children swathed in pain and helplessness caused by a parent’s cancer. I shudder for the devastation that cancer wreaks on so many lives, including mine and Les’.

The tears, which I barely held back yesterday, stream down my cheeks and flood the pillow.

Author: MeredithLaskow

Artist, writer, and unrepentant nerd girl.

8 thoughts on “Ben & Jerry’s / Camp Kesem”

  1. Oh Meredith, you write from your heart, and although the topic is just simply the pits… you show your talents lie in many fields, not only in jewlery making. You will get better, girl,… because there is a writer in you,… and I’m sure a book. My heart goes out to you, this post touched me deeply.

    1. Thank you so much Angelika! I’ve always written when I needed self-healing or understanding. It’s cathartic — anything I need to say, comes out through my pen (and nowadays, the keyboard.) I wrote a book about my 1998 cancer and am thinking about publishing it this summer.

  2. Everybody expresses in a different way. You don’t hold it on. You cry and you write. I cry and yell. It is all healing.

Comments are closed.