Voices of Childhood Cancer: Life Interrupted

Written by Rachel, Director of Marketing

Listen to the voices of childhood cancer this month. Every experience is different.  These stories of hope and healing start with your compassion and generosity.  Your donation helps us reach farther and move faster to develop improved treatments and promising cures for kids with rare cancers.  Be childhood cancer aware. Take action. [Presented by Atrium Health Levine Children’s]

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, so many are focused, and rightly so, on the child’s physical health:  treatments, side effects, doctor’s visits, tests, and scans.  But we know there are other parts of life affected by cancer:  self-image, work, family, relationships, and an overall approach to living.  To put it simply… life is completely interrupted.

Meet Emily, a licensed oncology social worker, who understands all the complex issues raised by childhood cancer.  And more importantly, knows how to guide cancer patients, their families, and caregivers through the experience.

As an oncology social worker, Emily provides both emotional and social support for Levine Children’s patients and families treated under the ISF Rare & Solid Tumor Program.  Her work takes on so many forms, from helping with –  insurance, transportation, housing, and financial planning – to providing emergency counseling and guidance.

Cancer families can face many challenges outside of the physical effects of cancer such as:

  • Struggling with the balance of working while having a child in treatment
  • Continuing to provide financial assistance while the child is in treatment
  • Managing job responsibilities
  • Managing the expense of cancer treatment costs
  • Struggling with long hospitalizations, and what that can do to families emotionally.  
  • Juggling siblings, their emotions, and physical needs
  • Understanding their cancer diagnosis

“What I love about my job is the connections with the children and their families. No two children are the same and no two parents are the same.  So every day and every visit I have with a different family is going to be unique to that family and their experiences.  I love to be able to be there and be someone they can lean on whether that’s emotionally or socially.  And to help them get through arguably one of the hardest times in their life.”

We have something really special at Levine Children’s.  Many oncology programs utilize social work on a referral basis but our social workers are part of the care team and see every patient.  Dr. Oesterheld has been a strong advocate for it and for it to stay that way.  I think it makes a big difference for our families.  I had Leukemia when I was 11 and the hospital I was treated at had limited psychosocial resources. It’s great to be a part of a program that emphasizes that aspect of care.”

Social workers like Emily assist from the time parents or caregivers first learn of their child’s cancer diagnosis through the entire continuum of care and beyond.  A vital role in cancer treatment, Emily is essential to many kid’s battles such as the ones we are featuring this month. 

Donate today. Enhance your impact by GIVING MONTHLY. Be part of something ongoing and make a difference… Every. Single. Month.


9.1: Voices of Childhood Cancer: A September Series to Help Inspire Change

9.2: Voices of Childhood Cancer:  Putting Your Kid in Someone Else’s Hands (Maggie)

9.7:  Voices of Childhood Cancer:  Learning to Live in the Moment (Jennifer)

9.10:  Voices of Childhood Cancer: The Power of Positive Thinking (Judd)

9.12: Voices of Childhood Cancer: Just to be a Kid Again (Brooklyn)

9.15: Voices of Childhood Cancer:  It’s Not Just Hair (Rosse)