Eric and Tabatha White joined HopeKids in June 2017 after their daughter, Raven, age 4, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia – a type of cancer that affects white blood cells and is the most common form of childhood cancer in the U.S.
“After the initial shock, the child life specialist at the hospital brought us a binder detailing organizations,
resources and support groups,” Tabatha said. “She emphasized that our family should join HopeKids.”
HopeKids provides ongoing events and activities for families who have a child with a life-threatening medical condition, such as cancer. Each month, they schedule a variety of sporting events, live performances, museum visits or other types of fun activities for the whole family.
“Raven spent much of the time since her diagnosis in the hospital,” Tabatha said. “I had no idea how difficult it would be for her brothers, Roman and Taj. [HopeKids] provided a special evening for the two to spend time together that we could never have afforded with the increasing medical expenses.”
Shortly after joining HopeKids, Tabatha couldn’t believe how incredible it was to meet another family with a daughter near the same age as Raven and a similar diagnosis. The two families met through HopeKids’ online forum and made a point for the two girls to meet once Raven was out of the hospital.
“When Lily and Raven met for the first time, they pointed to each other’s nearly bald heads and hugged,” Tabatha said. “We all knew we had met someone else who gets it.”
HopeKids strives to keep kids focused on the future, looking forward to the next fun event around the corner, rather than dwelling on what they are dealing with in the present. All events are focused on the whole family to prevent siblings from being unintentionally overlooked, bring families together that understand their journey, and are offered at no cost to families.
“You would be hard-pressed to find anyone close to us who has not heard about HopeKids and the impact it has had on our life through this difficult journey,” Tabatha said. “Seeing and meeting other families through HopeKids has provided a lot of comfort in our hardest days.”
Each year in the United States, approximately 500,000 children cope with life-threatening medical conditions. These conditions affect the entire family with more than half of parents suffering from acute stress disorders and 80 perce of siblings having elevated levels of posttraumatic stress.
“We love attending HopeKids events now as a family,” Tabatha said. “Spending this quality time together is important while Raven continues treatment for a couple more years.”
Numerous studies show that hope can increase one’s overall ability to cope, and familial support in chronically ill children is vital. HopeKids understands they are not a cure for these illnesses, but they believe hope is a powerful medicine.
HopeKids Arizona began in 2001 and currently serves more than 1,400 families who have a child with a life-threatening medical condition. For more information or to donate visit www.hopekids.org.