According to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer each day. For those battling a childhood cancer diagnosis, the fight can be intimidating. New doctors, scary procedures and difficult treatment all lie ahead. The great news is that, with the help of Barbara’s Friends, hospital visits and stays are becoming a little less scary.
Rebekah Kilpatrick was only two years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of cancer affecting the blood and bone marrow. As a result of this rapidly progressing disease, cancer patients often experience an array of symptoms that include bleeding gums, severe nosebleeds, shortness of breath and weakness, fatigue or a general decrease in energy.
For her lifesaving pediatric healthcare, Rebekah and her family turned to Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers. Throughout the course of her subsequent two-and-a-half-year treatment, Rebekah and the entire Kilpatrick family felt the tangible support of the hospital staff.
“The team of doctors and nurses that took care of me were wonderful and compassionate. I remember being afraid of the nurses and all the needles. Dr. Salman and Dr. MacArthur were very patient and understanding in dealing with me and my fears,” said Rebekah.
“It is such a scary and uncertain time for the patient and their families,” she added. “Golisano Children’s Hospital and Barbara’s Friends made sure that the entire family was supported. Despite all the scary times, I have some fond memories due to all the support we had.”
When she looks back on her journey, Rebekah remembers far more than fright. “I remember getting to have all the kinds of foods I wanted, and getting pulled around in the red wagon,” she explained. “I remember getting to have dogs visit me when I stayed in the hospital, and Dr. Salman getting me a flying pig.”
Today, this vivacious teenager is 16 years old. She loves studying biology and hopes that one day she may have a career in the medical field.
That’s exactly the difference that Barbara’s Friends has made in the lives of the more than 8,000 children that have been helped to date. Whether it’s facilitating a pet therapy visit that results in a smile or ensuring that no child is denied treatment for an inability to pay, Barbara’s Friends remains a vital support for families who call Southwest Florida home.
Rebekah will represent Barbara’s Friends and Golisano Children’s Hospital by participating in the annual Clips for Cancer event on Friday, September 4. Dr. Vijay Das will face the razor in solidarity with Rebekah’s journey – as well as raising awareness for children who are currently waging their own war with cancer. All proceeds raised through Clips for Cancer will benefit Barbara’s Friends Hematology and Oncology Program at Golisano Children’s Hospital.
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