Receiving a leukemia diagnosis isn’t easy, especially when you're eleven. But that’s exactly what happened to Avery Schroeder on April 8, 2005. She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and began more than two years of treatment, including hospital stays, surgery and chemotherapy.
Thanks to a recommendation from a caring hospital staff member, the Schroeder family created a CaringBridge website within a few days of Avery’s diagnosis. There were even computers available in the hospital family room so they could enter updates and read guestbook messages without having to go home.
Concerned Friends and Family
Family and friends from around the world were curious and concerned about Avery, but the family didn’t have time to talk to anyone on the phone. “They never knew when it was a good time to call the house, because most of the time it wasn’t,” said Kim Schroeder, Avery’s mom.
“CaringBridge was a great way to let everyone know what was going on,” said Kim. The website not only kept their loved ones updated, it became a frequent source of support for the family. Avery’s parents would read her the guestbook messages of love and encouragement when she was too sick to visit the site herself and it would bring a much needed smile to her face.
Kim describes the first nine months of Avery’s treatment as quite intense. She was too sick to go to school. CaringBridge gave her a connection to the outside world. Towards the end of those nine months Avery was able to start updating the CaringBridge site herself.
“I don’t know who it helped more, our friends and family who read the website daily or Avery when she took it over,” said Kim. “It was lovely for her to have that ability, to have some control over what was going on with her.”
Avery was diligent about making updates and keeping everyone informed. At the year anniversary of completing her treatments she decided to post her last Journal entry. In that entry she wrote:
“Thank you for all of your support through these 3 years! I couldn't have done it without you! I love you all and I hope you keep in touch! I saw it fitting for this to be my last update because tomorrow is my 1 year anniversary of finishing chemo!”
The family will have the site made into a CaringBook so they can look back and remember their journey and those cherished messages.
“CaringBridge was a true blessing,” said Kim. “It was our way to communicate with everyone without taking time away from our daughter.”