Through My Eyes: The Day That Made Me a Childhood Cancer Advocate

Through My Eyes is a series in which those affected by childhood cancer share a behind-the-scenes look into what it’s like to be in their shoes.  Read every perspective. Become aware and donate to help create solutions for kids fighting rare pediatric cancer. 

[#ThroughMyEyes | Rachel Wood] September 19, 2011… I accompanied Erin and Isabella to NYC for scans at Memorial Sloan Kettering. After a morning at the hospital we headed to Magnolia Bakery for a VIP baking experience… where this short clip above was taken.

In the clip you see Isabella and Erin baking cupcakes. What you don’t see is Erin’s shaking hands and the tears she is fighting hard to hold back. She had just stepped outside to take a call from the hospital asking her to come back to meet with the doctors right away.

On September 19, 2011 the Santos’ were told Isabella’s cancer had spread. It was in her head, bones, bone marrow, chest, abdomen… the disease was everywhere. The doctors explained that the surgeon would no longer operate and high dose chemo was not an option. The new disease in her head was bleeding and the immediate concern was swelling and seizures. The oncologist said to go home. Be with your family. Do things that make Isabella happy.

This is where MIBG therapy came in and gave 10 months of life and memories to Isabella and her family before she passed away from neuroblastoma on June, 28, 2012.

This NYC trip forever changed me. I don’t have a child with cancer and I don’t know what it’s like. But I watched it. I watched what it does, the pain it causes and the life it rips away. My eyes have been open to childhood cancer ever since.

Not everyone has a front row seat to the impacts of childhood cancer. I hope you are never given one. But that was my goal of the ‘Through My Eyes’ series, to help others open eyes, even a little bit, to what pediatric cancer is doing to kids, young adults and families. I normally spend quite a bit of time with cancer families, but the past 2 months I have spent that time asking the really hard questions, listening to the fears and pain. It has been the most rewarding yet most emotional taxing several months. I have talked, listened, planned, written & taken photos of cancer. I have lost sleep & dreamed about these kids and teens – awful dreams. I have gotten attached. But my emotional rollercoaster is nothing compared to what these warriors and their families go through every second of the day.

Thank you to those who opened up their hearts and homes to me specifically for this series. Thank you for letting me ask the really hard questions. Sharing awfully intimate details & thoughts. All to bring awareness to our supporters on what cancer has done. All in hopes that it will bring change.

On this last evening of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I beg of you to please not let a month or gold ribbon define awareness and action. Please continue to talk, share, volunteer, ask questions and give back. 

Thank you for listening this month. We look forward to communicating how much this series raised for pediatric cancer research. If you feel moved to donate, we appreciate every penny and are humbled by your support.


Rachel Wood
ISF Director of Marketing



9/2:  We Have Stopped Making You Aware

9/3:  Through My Eyes: This is Childhood Cancer 

9/3:  Through My Eyes: What Cancer Leaves Behind

9/4:  Through My Eyes: Day In the Life Of Kellie Andrew, Warrior Mom Fighting to Save Her Child From Neuroblastoma

9/5:  Through My Eyes: Behind the Scenes with Aaron Plummer, Dad to RhabdomyosarcomaWarrior

9/6:  Through My Eyes: What My Child About Cancer, What Really Scares This Cancer Mom

9/8:  Through My Eyes: Week 1 Results

9/9:  Through My Eyes: Behind the Mind of a Teenager Fighting Cancer & Social Anxiety

9/11:  Through My Eyes: What It’s Like to be a Young Adult Living With Cancer

9/13: Through My Eyes: What It’s Like to be a Young Adult Supporting a Loved One With Cancer

9/15: Through My Eyes: Week 2 Results

9/17: Through My Eyes: Behind the Scenes With Charlotte Pediatric Oncologist, Dr. Oesterheld

9/19: Through My Eyes: What It’s Like to Help Kids Understand & Cope With a Cancer Diagnosis

9/20: Through My Eyes: What I See in Kids Fighting Cancer as a Pediatric Oncology Nurse

9/22: Through My Eyes: We Are Childhood Cancer Parents. We Are Not OK.

9/23: Through My Eyes: Behind the Minds of a Family Who is Fighting a Terminal Childhood Cancer Diagnosis

9/25: Through My Eyes: How a Little Sister’s Terminal Cancer Diagnosis Affects Siblings Too

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