The National Children’s Cancer Society Provides Support In Trying Times
A cancer diagnosis is always overwhelming, but even more so when a child is involved. In seconds, a family’s entire life can be turned upside down. The months and years of treatments, complicated medication regimens and doctor visits that follow can push any family to its emotional and financial limits. That’s where The National Children’s Cancer Society comes in. “We provide financial, educational and emotional support for families with a child in treatment,” says the NCCS Director of Marketing Lori Millner. Over the past 25 years, the NCCS has helped more than 30,000 families get their children the necessary treatment and better deal with cancer’s many impacts.
It starts with the family’s non-medical expenses. “Travel, meals, gas—these are the ancillary expenses no one thinks about,” Millner says. To date, they’ve distributed some $54 million to cover those costs. NCCS also offers educational support and resources, including free web conferences on topics such as “Late Effects from Radiation.” And crucial emotional support is fostered through the close relationships that develop among families in crisis. “These families become very connected to our caseworkers,” Millner says. “The caseworkers share their joys and traumas; they provide counsel.”
Any child diagnosed with cancer, anywhere in the country, is eligible for assistance from the NCCS. First contact is usually made by a social worker at the hospital where the child is diagnosed. “They let us know about the family’s treatment plan,” says Jessica Cook, program coordinator for the NCCS. “Then we contact the family, find out needs and talk about how they’re doing.”
Transportation costs are often a large financial burden. “A lot of hospitals offer specialized treatment,” Cook explains. “Maybe the best treatment is in New York, but the family lives in Idaho… traveling to New York every three weeks would be cost prohibitive. Even if the hospital is only half an hour away, driving there every day for radiation is a burden.” More often than not, families also struggle financially with a loss of income because one parent has left a job to care for the child.
Yet, Cook says, it’s typically the child who keeps the family strong throughout the process. “I’m always amazed how the children often keep the parents’ spirits up. The parents struggle with being scared, with wanting to take the burden away from the child. But the spirit of the child keeps the family going.” In every way possible, the NCCS keeps a family strong too.
The National Children’s Cancer Society helps families bear the burden of treatment through financial assistance and a network of people and events to support emotional and medical needs. With the help of this community, Melanie, far left, finished a 5k race just five months after a bone marrow transplant and a 3-year-old’s dream came true when she met Snow White. The network helped Grayson, above left, battle a brain stem tumor at 1, and 14-year old Brandon, shown above right two months after brain surgery, get back to a normal teenage life.