September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This September is also the two-year anniversary of the day my husband Greg and I received the devastating news that our daughter Abigail, who was about to turn one, had been diagnosed with metastatic neuroblastoma. A rare and aggressive cancer of the central nervous system, neuroblastoma is found almost exclusively in children under five.
The adage about your whole world stopping is true: The morning after her diagnosis, I woke up curled around her tiny, sick body in a hospital room on the 10th floor of Boston Children’s Hospital, and canceled the not just pasta sauce tasting I was supposed to do later that day. I was so shaken that I couldn’t even tell the organizers why.
Her intensive treatment started four days later and for over six months, the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana Farber became our second home until she was mercifully declared “no evidence of disease” (NED – cancer free) in March 2020.
Despite the stress associated with having a clinic full of profoundly ill children, some of whom have been in treatment for many years, the JFC is a place full of joy and hope thanks to the world-class medical care and the incredible staff who have seemingly endless wells of smiles, hugs, jokes, and encouragement. Their energy gave Greg and me the strength to get through every day juggling intense medical care, jobs, and trying to maintain some sense of normalcy. More importantly, their commitment to science, learning, and medicine has given us a healthy, happy, and thriving little girl who will soon turn three.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month serves as an opportunity to both support families of children undergoing treatment, and also to raise awareness of the lack of funding in support of childhood cancer. Only about 4% of all federal dollars allocated to cancer research are earmarked specifically for pediatric cancers and few pediatric cancer drugs have been developed in the last 60 years.
This September, I am so grateful that – with your help – Not Just Co. will be donating 15% of our website sales to the Jimmy Fund Clinic in support of their mission to provide “family-centered care” to their patients.
Finding out that Abigail had cancer was devastating. Knowing that there was a whole team at the JFC working with us to make her treatment as smooth and as effective as possible gave us the tools we needed to get through each day. That level of care is unparalleled and I am honored that together we will be able to pay it forward to other families like mine.