The unbreakable bond of sisters
When Christa was being treated for Leukemia, she and her beloved sister Skyla participated in Friends of Karen’s Sibling Support Program. Her mother Georgette, thinking it was a stomach bug, brought Christa to see the doctor. He told mom that Christa’s blood count was low.
In 2021 five-year-old Christa began to complain of frequent stomach aches. Her mother Georgette, thinking it was a stomach bug, brought Christa to see the doctor. He told mom that Christa’s blood count was low. Georgette was working at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, so she had knowledgeable coworkers to consult, and they urged her to bring Christa back to the doctor as soon as possible. That doctor’s visit brought devastating news. Christa was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a bone marrow and blood cancer. Christa’s diagnosis forever changed her life and the lives of her mother, older sister Geneil, and little sister Skyla. When Christa was hospitalized, Georgette took medical leave from work and was constantly by her side, and Skyla was at home missing her mom and sister. “Skyla would cry for her sister all the time and did not want to leave the house,” Georgette said.
When Christa came home from the hospital the family faced additional challenges. With all the time they had spent apart juggling hospital visits and doctor’s appointments, they yearned to be together again as a family. Skyla, Geneil, and Christa struggled to connect with one another after such a long time separation. Then Georgette was laid off from her job at the hospital and the bills began to pile up. The family was in crisis. The hospital social worker suggested that Georgette contact Friends of Karen. After completing an application, she was contacted by Beth, a Friends of Karen social worker. Friends of Karen helped Georgette with paying her rent to ensure the family could stay safely in their home.
Beth also referred Skyla and Christa to Jane, a creative arts therapist in the organization’s Sibling Support Program. Jane created a safe space for the sisters to play games and work on art projects together. They participated in the “Friends Having Fun” virtual group every Thursday, never missing a chance to make new friends and have fun. Georgette credits Jane with helping the family become whole again.
“Friends of Karen was here when I needed them the most,” Georgette said. “Jane is a gem and the activity group got kids together and provided a special world to be a kid again and interact with other kids in the same situation.” The children’s circumstances have improved with Friends of Karen’s support and the support of their extended family. During the summer of 2023, Christa left the house for the first time since returning home from the hospital to attend a special summer camp the family was connected to by Friends of Karen. Skyla sat right beside her filled with excitement on the bus ride to their first day of camp, together again and ready to just have fun.