When Rae’s daughter, Sofia, was diagnosed with High-Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age 7 in January 2016, she quickly learned how isolating it can be to have a child with cancer.
She learned that there was no family support group or mentor family available at Levine Children’s Hospital or elsewhere in the Charlotte area. After connecting with a supportive online group called Momcology, Levine Children’s Hospital agreed to partner with Momcology to bring their peer-to-peer support group model here. Levine became just the second hospital in the country to offer it. Since the success of Levine Children’s Hospital Momcology, the program has spread to other children’s hospitals across the country.
“Meeting other cancer moms in person and forming real connections and friendships was a wonderful experience and I wanted to bring that opportunity to other pediatric cancer caregivers in Charlotte,” said Rae. “My hope is that it will continue to catch on and eventually all pediatric hospitals will see the importance of offering a place where their patients’ families can meet, connect and support one another.”
In addition to the Levine Children’s Hospital group, Rae started a Facebook group called Charlotte Pediatric Cancer Support Group so that ALL primary caregivers with a child with cancer could connect with one another regardless of where their child was treated. This enabled families affected by pediatric cancer to share information, opportunities, fundraisers and ideas with one another.
Whether it’s the ISF 5K/10K race in September, the LLS Moms in Training program, Cookies for Kids Cancer bake sales, CureSearch’s Ultimate Hike or hosting blood drives, these cancer moms try to spread the word about the organizations they believe in and help them in whatever ways they can. Several of them recently attended the Levine Children’s Hospital gala on ISF’s behalf where they enjoyed a fun “Girls Night” and supported what Rae says is “the best children’s hospital that means so much to us and our families.”
Adds Rae, “I hope the biggest thing we’re doing collectively is raising awareness about the fact that pediatric cancer isn’t as ‘rare’ as people think and they will be moved to take action against it. We were once just like everyone else until one day we were thrown into this elite club we never wanted to join. None of us thought it would ever happen to our kid; we never imagined we would one day actually know some of the children and families in those St. Jude commercials.”
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Join these dedicated cancer moms and help support pediatric cancer research at any of these upcoming local fundraisers: