A look back from Jen, Leah’s mom
Jen, Leah and Rhonda 2013, and 2019

The summer of 2013 before Leah started school was great, filled with activities and no signs of an illness. Shortly after school started, my precious Leah, age five, felt sick, and was diagnosed with Leukemia. 

My mind was at ease feeling confident that Leah would be healed, then suddenly I panicked wondering how we were going to pay the bills. Leah was going to get better, but how can I take her home from a hospital visit if there is no home to go to? How can we get home if we no longer have a car? I was thoroughly overwhelmed by the thoughts about the future.

While at the infusion center, someone referred us to Friends of Karen. They said Friends of Karen assists families with children fighting cancer or another life threatening illness.

Making the call instantly gave me a resounding sense of peace and calm. I spoke with Friends of Karen social worker Rhonda. She was pleasant and reassuring that Friends of Karen was here to help. All my time was dedicated to caring for, not only Leah, but also for her little brother, Mike. They are one and a half years apart in age.

Friends of Karen was right there for us, putting things into motion long before we knew what we needed. There was no time to plan a Thanksgiving dinner, and no time to shop for presents. Friends of Karen sent us a Thanksgiving meal through the Feed-a-Family program, and my kids received presents on Christmas. We are so thankful to everyone that participated in the holiday Adopt-a-Family program.

We’re now back to our first normal. The kids are back to fighting over who gets the front seat and whose turn it is to play with the Nintendo Switch. I’m back to work full time, and Leah is doing well and loves playing Pokemon and watching Anime cartoons. We stopped by the Friends of Karen office this past December to drop off toys for the Adopt-a-Family program.

Thinking back to her illness I can see that all the medicine saved Leah, and all the things Friends of Karen did, like helping to pay our bills and providing the support we needed, saved the health of the family. For anyone going through something similar, I encourage you and urge you to make the call and allow Friends of Karen to become a support system you can rely on. 

Ways to give

Friends of Karen is creating a pathway of loving messages from all of our supporters, friends and families. 

Bring critically ill children and their families the HOPE they deserve all year long. As a Guardian of Hope, you Donate Monthly. With your help, children will receive the emotional support they need

Leave your imprint to benefit future generations. Naming Friends of Karen in your estate plans will continue to impact the lives of critically ill children and their families well into the future.

Friends of Karen believes that families can maintain a sense of balance and stability even in the midst of the crisis of caring for a child with a life-threatening illness.