By: Trish Adkins
There are unique bonds between brothers and sisters — laughter, friendship, honesty, a sprinkle of rivalry and, of course, love.
Those bonds strengthen and grow when a childhood cancer diagnosis enters the picture. Healthy siblings are impacted alongside their brother or sister battling cancer. It is a scary time, but it is also a time when siblings do extraordinary things — like hold their sister’s hand while she is having a chemotherapy infusion, plan lemonade stands to help other kids get better or move family traditions from the home to the hospital.
In these locked-down days, some siblings at home are getting to spend more time together than ever. They are each other’s classmates, playmates and roommates.
Several childhood cancer hero families recently shared some of their feel-good family moments with us.
Here are five feel-good stories just in time for National Siblings Day:
1. Staying apart to stay safe
Cass Butler was just 10 when her brother was diagnosed with childhood cancer. That experience changed the entire trajectory of her life. Today, Cass is a nurse on a COVID-19 unit. Since she works on the front lines of the pandemic, Cass is staying isolated from her siblings and parents to keep them safe.
Cass is also a SuperSibs ambassador for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) and shares her story to raise awareness, fund research and provide support to other siblings, just like her.
2. Brothers, besties and really good bouncers
Jacob and Max Libby are embracing their time together to have as much brotherly fun as possible. SuperSib Jacob was just 3 years old when his baby brother Max was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. (ALL).
Everything changed for Jacob. His mom, who had been at home with the boys, now had to be at the hospital. It was hard for Jacob to understand, but through the support of the SuperSibs program and his family, Jacob was able to feel special and supported.
Today, Jacob is 8 years old and Max is 5. Max completed treatment in August 2019.
The brothers are embracing their time at home with as much play (and bouncing) as possible.
3. Family is everything
Ryan Cartafalsa was 22 months old when he was diagnosed with ependymoma. His mom, Trish, remembers the strength and maturity that Ryan’s sisters showed through his diagnosis and continue to show today. Together, the Cartafalsa family volunteers for ALSF and continues to be an example of how families fight together.
4. Inspiration times three
Natalie was not yet a big sister when, at 21 months old, she was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma of the pelvic floor. Her younger brother Ethan was born while Natalie was still in treatment. Today, Natalie is 13 years old, cancer-free and the big sister to both Ethan and youngest brother Gavin. The trio is spending this pandemic time at home together—exploring their new house and making plans for the day when they can host their annual ALSF lemonade stand in their front yard.
5. The original lemonade crew
When ALSF founder Alex Scott hosted her first lemonade stand, she did it with the help of her older brother Patrick. For Alex’s mom, Liz, this time at home gives her more time to adore the photo of her four children — Patrick, Alex, Eddie and Joey — and reflect on how times can change, but love remains, always.
April 10 is National Siblings Day. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundations knows firsthand how childhood cancer affects the whole family, every day. Siblings’ lives change in an instant when their brother or sister is diagnosed with cancer. To support children through their sibling’s childhood cancer treatment, the SuperSibs program works to provide comfort, encouragement, and empowerment to brothers and sisters so they can face the future with courage and hope.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is launching a social media campaign inspired by its founder, Alex Scott’s positive outlook in times of uncertainty. We want to know how you are making lemonade out of lemons during this time - whether by learning new skills, getting creative, connecting with family or friends through video chat or doing something else that puts a sweet smile on your faces! However you're making lemonade out of this situation, we want to know! Share your special moments with us on social media using the hashtag #MakeAlexsLemonade.
COVID-19 has disrupted everyday life in so many ways. For families in the midst of childhood cancer treatment, navigating a cancer diagnosis is more difficult than ever. You can help ALSF provide critical support to families as they travel for treatment and navigate cancer in a pandemic. Your donation can mean another hotel stay, another weeks’ worth of groceries and another day of peace of mind over finances for these families.
Together, we can help families navigate this uncertain time. Give today and make a meaningful difference for all children fighting this disease. Donate today.