Childhood Cancer and Why You Need to #BETHERE by First Lady Barbara Bush

No parent is prepared to hear a doctor say the words: Your child has cancer; George and I were no different.  When we learned in 1953 that our then three-year-old daughter, Robin, had leukemia, we were both overwhelmed.  The doctors told us not to treat her, but to take her home, love her, and she would be gone in a matter of weeks.

George and I decided to take her across the country to the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York where they treated children with cancer.  That was completely unheard of back then.  Robin underwent blood transfusions and painful bone marrow tests, but after a courageous seven months, she passed away.  We were heart-broken.

When a family has a child diagnosed with cancer they need support – whether it be financial, emotional, or just practical.  During Robin’s seven month battle, George and I felt that support in extraordinary ways.  We asked our friends to give blood, to replace the blood we used.  They gave.  Before work each morning George would stop by the Presbyterian church in Midland where we lived. A custodian there knew about Robin’s illness, and George says he felt his presence there joining him in prayer. The seemingly little and practical made an enormous difference.

A cancer diagnosis for a child can turn a family’s life upside down.  Everyone feels the effects. George and I were more fortunate than most, and we had an incredible network of family and friends to help us in very meaningful ways.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and in remembering our beautiful angel, Robin, we ask that you join with Coach Tom Coughlin and take the pledge to BE THERE for families confronted with the unthinkable. None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something, whether it’s making dinner for a family, offering to pick-up siblings from school or soccer practice, spreading the word, or giving to organizations who are there to help.  Don’t sit on the sidelines.  Get in the game and BE THERE.