What’s Happening: See what we've been up to at Connor's Heroes

image

Focus on Helping Heroes - Patrick’s mom, Mary

Wednesday - September 5, 2018
image

Mary is the mom of a teenage son who doctors diagnosed in February 2017. She said the hardest part of being a parent to a child battling cancer is seeing her sweet son suffer from illness and pain. The family is discovering that there are “helping heroes” in unexpected places who offer their support, compassion and kindness.

What does a day in the clinic and/or a day of inpatient look like?
We spent over 50 nights in the hospital for this first year. At clinic, everyone is kind. There are days where steroids make patients moody and when kids are very sick or nauseous. The whole building is full of staff who understand and are patient.

Are there any particular ways Connor's Heroes helped support you and your family with any of the above struggles?
They are researching for cures. We receive gifts like grocery and gas cards. They have lunch in clinic and the hospital. Erin gives us support over the phone. We enjoy the art sessions.


Focus on Your Family - Tariq’s mom, Samia

Wednesday - September 5, 2018
image

No parent expects to go to the doctor and hear the words, “Your child has cancer.” One to two children are diagnosed with childhood cancer every week in Central Virginia. Doctors diagnosed Samia’s son in May 2017. She counts 420 total days in the ER, inpatient or clinic visits. Think about that. More than a year of her son’s life. He’s only six years old. “It’s as if we were in a pressure cooker and are just now emerging. We are intensely closer now, but much of what we lived through will cause lifelong anxiety.” The one word she used to describe cancer was “Trauma.”

What is the hardest part of the cancer journey as a parent?
Everything changed in an instant. One day you're planning summer camps for your children. Then the next day, you're finding a place for one child to stay the night so you can stay in the hospital. You come face to face with the reality that there is no amount of money, effort or love that you can provide for your child to deflect his pain and fears.

What does a day in the clinic and/or a day of inpatient look like? 
There are fears of catching a virus walking in the parking lot, through the elevators and hallway. There is downtime as you wait on doctors, staff, lab and pharmacy orders. Three-minute outpatient chemo treatment is typically a three-hour visit. By the time you get home, you and your child are spent, hungry and just looking for some TLC. I have to remind myself to loosen my shoulder and unclench my jaw as I’m often unknowingly tense from the day.

Are there any particular ways Connor's Heroes helped support you and your family with any of the above struggles?
Connor’s Heroes has been amazing. I still use the backpack they gave me a year ago. They filled it with amazing and useful items. The gift cards covered food and travel expenses. My son found the art sessions to be very therapeutic. They gave my other son opportunities that kept him busy and safe.

What is the #1 thing cancer has taken away from your hero's future?
Nothing. I refuse to believe that my son’s future is any less bright from before. He can do anything.


Focus on your blessings - Arianna’s mom, Ashely

Wednesday - September 5, 2018
image

Doctors diagnosed Arianna with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma in September 2017. Her mom Ashely estimates that the family had six visits to the ER, ten inpatient stays averaging seven days, with 50-60 clinic visits and counting. “Terrifying” is the first word she used to describe cancer. Through it all, Ashely finds the silver lining to give her strength and hope.

What is the #1 thing cancer has taken away from your hero's childhood?
In some way, cancer took away Arianna's innocence. She was forced to deal with her illness and all the bad that comes with it. That was a heavy load for a 7-year-old to carry. We don't know what the future holds, but we are confident it will be bright for Arianna!

How has cancer changed your family?
The hardest part as a parent has been dealing with our own emotions while also helping the girls with their feelings. Our family is so much stronger since Arianna's diagnosis. We've had to lean on one another for strength and encouragement. Our togetherness is one of the brightest moments of this journey.

If you could change one thing about your journey, what would it be?
I wouldn't change a thing! We have been blessed to receive care at a phenomenal hospital (VCU) with a wonderful staff. The support from the community through various organizations makes the journey a lot easier!

Are there any particular ways Connor's Heroes helped support you and your family with any of the above struggles?
Connor's Heroes has been consistent support for our family and many other families. We often see them in clinic and in the hospital offering their support however they can.


Focus on Your Emotions - Graeme’s mom, Kelly

Wednesday - September 5, 2018
image

Graeme is the oldest son; a big brother to Macklin and baby Connolly. Kelly and Ross have their hands full with three boys under the age of five. Kelly shares how she juggles the adversity of Graeme’s cancer with the joy of raising three adorable sons. Like so many parents of a child with cancer, the one word she used to describe the disease is “Fear.”

What do you hate most about cancer?
The fear of losing him. The fear of relapse. There are so many long-term side effects: Treatment likely will take years off of his life. He may not be able to have children. He may have learning disabilities, heart complications, liver dysfunction or get a secondary cancer due to the chemo.

How has cancer changed your family?
We were healthy pre-cancer, but now we are much closer to a non-toxic lifestyle. We steer clear of germs, sugar, processed food, plastic and anything that may be cancer-causing. I miss our precancer days for the calm I used to feel.

How has cancer impacted your family financially?
We would have lost everything (house, cars, etc.) if we didn't have the support of Connor’s Heroes, friends and families. The gift cards help us get up and down the road. We travel thousands of miles for clinic and hospital.

What does a day in clinic and/or a day inpatient look like?
A constant revolving door of people. Graeme is often shy on these days. It's exhausting. We pretend that we aren't terrified. We laugh and joke and try to make it fun, but internally, we're freaking out.


Focus on Your Children - Matthew’s Mom, Heather

Tuesday - September 4, 2018
image

Matthew is an 8-year-old boy who will dive into a good book like the Goosebumps series and speed around the neighborhood on his bike. In June, doctors diagnosed him with a brain tumor. Heather, Matthew’s mom, tells how her other two children, Zoey and Nathan, deal with their brother’s illness as the family focuses on Matthew. When asked to describe cancer with one word, she chose “Fight.”

What is the hardest part of the cancer journey as a parent?
Seeing the fear in my son and his siblings when we discussed what cancer can do! There is the constant fear of knowing I could lose my son. His siblings miss him and me so much while we are away from home! It is hard for them to understand he is fighting a disease since he doesn't look sick.

How has cancer changed your family?
Cancer has given us a new outlook. At any moment cancer can change your whole life and take someone you love. We have learned to live every day to the fullest, always pray and have faith! We are praying it won’t take anything from his future, but once he was diagnosed with cancer we still fear that it will come back! We will fight with everything we have to give him the best future he can have!

Are there any particular ways Connor's Heroes helped support you and your family with any of the above struggles?
Connor’s Heroes have been amazing from the start! They gave my son his backpack after his brain surgery. He was grateful for the items inside! I was impressed by the love and thought put into the bag! Erin not only reached out to me to chat and be a source of comfort and support but personally delivered a Visa gift card to help with the financial burden!! We have not been able to attend any events, but we are looking forward to going soon and meeting other families fighting the same battle!


August 2018 Art Session

Saturday - September 1, 2018
image

We had a small, but spirited art session. Tay and Savanna painted small canvas blocks with their favorite creatures of the ocean. Our volunteer artists will piece them together in a large-scale collage for someone special. Stay tuned to see the final art piece and the lucky person who will receive it.

Photos

4 images


2018 Music For Massey

Friday - August 31, 2018
image

Thank you to our friends at Napier ERA who gave a generous $18,000 to benefit pediatric cancer research. Jim Napier and his company supported pediatric cancer research for nearly 20 years through the annual Music for Massey concert. In a Facebook post, Jim said: "From our first year til now, we have raised nearly $350,000 for cancer research in our area." Money from Music For Massey will fund The Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund.

In frame: 
Dr. Gordon Ginder, Director of VCU Massey Cancer Center
Dr. Seth Corey, Children's Hospital Foundation Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research 
Megan Napier- Napier Realtors ERA, 3rd generation Napier ERA realtor
Celia Tetlow, executive director of Connor's Heroes Foundation
Jim Napier, president of Napier ERA
Pic cred: Napier ERA Facebook page


Board Spotlight: Michael Barnett

Friday - August 31, 2018
image

Michael Barnett is the co-founder and CEO of Romp n' Roll, an international franchisor of children's play and learning centers. Discover how his entrepreneurial spirit complements a nonprofit like Connor's Heroes. 

Q: What are you most passionate about when you think about Connor’s Heroes work, mission and impact?
A: I'm proud of the money we raise for research, but I love the work we do day in and day out on the local level. We support kids and families and hopefully make life just a little bit easier during a challenging time.

Q: What is your favorite experience so far with Connor’s Heroes?
A: This year was the fifth Heroes Art Ball I attended. I've loved all of them. To me, the Heroes Art Ball brings together what Connor's Heroes is all about.

Q: Why do you believe it is important to give back to your community?
A: Aside from an obvious answer like "it feels good," I believe what John F. Kennedy said, "To those whom much is given, much is expected." Specifically giving back to a local organization means you are not only helping friends and neighbors, but you can see first-hand the impact of your contribution.

Q: Why should others support Connor’s Heroes?
A: You should support Connor's Heroes because we make a difference in the lives of children and their families right here in Central Virginia at a time when they need us most.

For a complete list of CHF Board of Directors, visit www.connorsheroes.org/our-story/our-board-members


Today’s Helping Heroes: Sidney and Tallulah

Wednesday - August 29, 2018
image

Not one, but two young Helping Heroes dropped off goodies for our Heroes Bags and Backpacks: Sidney and his friends with The Homeschool Adventure Society of Central Virginia hosted a backpack drive and Tallulah celebrated her birthday by having her friends bring gifts for our heroes! How did they know what we needed? We have a supply list on Amazon. You should check it out. There are simple items you can purchase that will make a big difference to our families.

Photos

2 images


Local Foundation Spotlights Erin

Wednesday - August 29, 2018
image

Look who is this month's Help Somebody Hall of Fame. The Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond and ConnectVA recognized Erin for her working helping the families with Connor's Heroes. If you're a hero family or Connor's Heroes volunteer, you will recognize this smiling face. We are beyond lucky to have Erin on our team! Read her profile www.connectva.org