You may be surprised to learn that 1 out of every 300 boys will be diagnosed with cancer before they turn 18 years old. The same is true for 1 out of every 333 girls. Candlelighter's Childhood Cancer Family Alliance in Houston sure understands those statistics. They work closely with families, who have children being treated at Texas Children's Hospital and U.T.'s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to help them deal with the tough times. The group's volunteers can speak easily with these families, because they have also had a child with cancer. It's an incredible partnership that can make a world of difference, especially for a newly diagnosed family. Most parents say "the family was diagnosed", because cancer undoubtedly affects everyone in the family.
Candlelighter's held their biggest fundraiser of the year Tuesday, with an auction and luncheon. They also sold goods from local vendors, who donated a portion of their proceeds back to the organization. It was a fun reason to shop for a cause. These funds are a big help to many local families.
We got a chance to speak with Jenna Jackson, who was on the Host Committee for the event this year. She also served as Chair of the luncheon several years ago. "You think of all the medical bills, but you don't think of parking, food certificates, just all of the little things these families go through, medical bills pile up to such an extreme that they don't have money to pay for this stuff and parking can be $12-$20 per day at these hospitals. That really adds up during years of treatments. Something else you don't think of is how severely siblings are affected. Their brother or sister gets diagnosed with cancer, then all of the parent's attention is on the sick child. It's emotionally tough for the healthy child," explains Jenna. That's why the Candlelighter's also helps support those siblings. The group holds a special camp called CLIFF out at Camp For All in Burton, Texas for the entire family. It allows kids to "just be kids" and not think about cancer for a while. It's also great emotional support for the entire family. My own family benefited from the camp, just a few weeks after my son was diagnosed with cancer.