“I’m sorry, but your child has cancer.” Those are the most feared words that a parent could ever hear. As the President of the Families of Children with Cancer, Inc. organization, I know this all too well. 11 of our 13 board members know this all to well as we are an organization that is lead by people that have all heard these words before. As a cancer-survivor myself, I can tell you that when my 2 year old daughter, Amelia, was diagnosed and we heard these words it was tougher than when I heard the doctor say the diagnosis of cancer in myself. This leads all of us to have a passion to help other families in this same position.
It is with this passion, that the Families of Children with Cancer, Inc. does what it does. As soon as a family is diagnosed with childhood cancer in the hospital, the St. Vincent Hospital Pediatrics Oncology department hands the family a binder that is from the Families of Children with Cancer. This binder has lots of information to help the family as well as gift cards for gas and groceries. We then have a New Family Contact person from our board contact the family to provide whatever emotional support they can at that time and they let them know about our organization.
We offer the families financial support by offering up to $1,000 per year in assistance during treatment with living expense bills such as mortgage, rent, WPS, etc. We then also offer up to $500 per year in mileage reimbursement if a family has to travel more than 25 miles for their child’s treatment. We also offer a $1,500 college scholarship to cancer survivor kids in our group per year for up to 5 years to aid in their furthering their education.
There are times also when a family may be really going thru a tough situation with their child’s health or during a recurrence of the cancer where some kind of “pick me up” is needed. In memory of Brittany Cayemberg, one of our angels, we started something we call “Brittany’s Bucket List” to aid in assisting a family to be able to provide something for that child whether it be a much needed vacation day trip or something they have really been wanting.
We also offer support for the families by providing outings that families can go on to get to know other families that may be going thru or may have gone thru similar situations. We do things like a Roller Skating Party, a Night at the Movies, a Laser Tag outing, a Fishing Trip, a trip to Ski Brule, a trip to a Brewers game just to name a few. One of our biggest events is our Christmas Party that we do where Santa comes and brings presents for all of the kids including the siblings. Soon we will be starting up some type of support group meetings also for those that may need it.
We always say that a child is not diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is. So we try and do as much as we can to make a tough situation a little bit better even if it is only for a moment or peace of mind with paying some bills. We have no paid staff as we are entirely a volunteer driven organization. Our hope for you reading this, is that you remember us as you hear about us and help us out in any way you can.
Tim Gorton, President
Families of Children with Cancer, Inc.