Julia is an energetic almost five year old who is happy to have started kindergarten this fall. She loves playing with her little sister, running, laughing, singing and dancing. It’s hard to believe that she’s been through nearly three years of chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
She missed birthday parties, holidays, play dates and many other fun things kids her age enjoy every day. Additionally, when Julia was diagnosed, her mom was pregnant and unable to be in contact with the chemo drugs so Julia’s dad was the only parent who could be her caretaker.
Counting on CaringBridge
But amid all of these challenges, Julia and her family could count on one constant: the support they got from their friends and family who followed Julia’s story on CaringBridge.
Julia’s mom, Joy, was aware that CaringBridge existed and began her CaringBridge website the day after her diagnosis. Joy says, “I wanted to be able to get information to people and didn’t want to make 500 calls a day. It was really difficult to talk about out loud and so that first week we were already posting new journal updates twice a day. It felt incredible to have people all over the world checking in and sending us prayers, good thoughts, love and hugs.”
Feeling Like They Weren’t Alone
“Using CaringBridge was definitely the best decision I possibly could have made at that point in our cancer journey. It was a way for me to share our fears, frustrations and successes.” Joy says that CaringBridge helped her family feel like they were not alone while simultaneously providing much needed space as those who cared were able to receive updates without the family feeling overwhelmed.
The Greatest Gift
The thing that surprised Joy most was the unexpected feelings of community, love and support. This included people bringing meals, getting mail, walking the dog and taking care of other tasks. Once Julia finished her treatment this support led Julia’s family to want to give back to CaringBridge. They threw a reverse benefit called a No Mo Chemo party to raise money for the charities that made the greatest impact on them during the last three years.
Julia’s family continues to use CaringBridge to provide updates as she undergoes monthly checkups and people continue to leave comments of support. For Julia’s parents, seeing their daughter happy and healthy is the greatest gift her parents could ask for this holiday season.
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