By: Trish Adkins
They never thought it would happen to them, twice.
Hope and CJ Miller are as close as siblings can be. Less than a year apart in age, they enjoy pranking each other and simply being each other’s best friend.
Hope was in gym class one day when she had difficulty breathing, which led to a visit to the hospital and a diagnosis of mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a cancer in her lung and surrounding lymph nodes. CJ immediately became her support system as she recovered from surgery to remove her lung and the tumor. Hope was declared cancer-free, and then within months, in an unbelievable twist, it was CJ facing cancer.
Their family received his diagnosis in the same room where Hope had recovered from surgery. CJ had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His parents—Deidra and Christopher—were in disbelief.
Again, their world was turned upside down by childhood cancer. Nothing prepares a parent for that—not even an earlier diagnosis.
CJ began leukemia treatment immediately. Hope was at his side, as he had been for her. Then the pandemic struck, complicating not only CJ’s treatment but also the family’s financials. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) was there to support the Miller family through the COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
“It has been humbling and restorative to know that there are people who care and are willing to help,” said Deidra and Christopher. ALSF support not only alleviated financial stress, but it helped them know they were not fighting alone.
Today, CJ continues the maintenance phase of his leukemia treatment, with his sister Hope, still cancer-free, at his side.
College and CAR-T
Heather Moore found herself in a comparable situation to the Millers as she started her freshman year of college at the University of New Hampshire.
Heather, who first battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when she was 12 years old, relapsed during her senior year of high school. This time, the leukemia was in her central nervous system.
Her family was shocked. They never thought Heather would have to battle leukemia again.
She first turned to her local hospital in Florida, but frontline chemotherapy treatment was not working and impacting her quality of life with intense side effects that landed her in the hospital.
Together with the support of her doctors and family, Heather found a CAR-T immunotherapy trial at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She qualified, but there was a catch: Heather needed to figure out how to manage a clinical trial in Philadelphia, while she was attending college in New Hampshire.
ALSF was there to help by providing financial support from Travel For Care, like they did for Hope and CJ’s family. The team at ALSF also helped with making travel arrangements, alleviating that additional burden.
Heather continues her studies at the University of New Hampshire and her clinical trial at CHOP.
“To say Heather is my hero is an understatement. I am in complete awe of her spirit, her smile, and her compassion for humanity,” said Lori, Heather’s mom.
It’s more than just Hope, CJ and Heather.
According to the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2), 17,293 children (aged 0-19) were diagnosed with cancer in 2018 in the United States. Each of these families needs to be able to access treatments that work—which requires both travel support and research that ensures more options for kids with cancer.
ALSF helps families every step of the way as they navigate childhood cancer--from providing support to travel for lifesaving treatment to funding innovative research and supporting clinical trials.
We cannot stop childhood cancer from happening; but with your help, we can provide families with support services like covering travel expenses to reach distant treatments. We can fund research to discover safer, more effective treatments and cures. We can provide hope for a future free of childhood cancer.
Donate today to help families like the Millers. Your gift gives help, funds research, and makes cures a reality.