Isaiah loves his big brother. He lights up the second he sees him. He’s crawling but not walking yet. He loves music, bubbles and balls.

In the fall of last year, Isaiah woke up one morning with a droopy eye which eventually (a month later) led to his diagnosis of stage 2 neuroblastoma. Changes in the eyes is a common symptom of neuroblastoma but children can also exhibit pain in the legs or arms or a lump or mass that the parent can feel. Surgery and chemotherapy are standard treatments for neuroblastoma. Isaiah has had two surgeries along with chemotherapy treatment.

This cancer diagnosis has been extremely trying. I had to quit my job to take care of Isaiah and financially we just aren’t surviving. It is very hard with two other children.

Isaiah’s support page

Hope session by June Bug Photography.  facebook | instagram

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The Truth 365

The goal of The Truth 365 is to educate and mobilize millions of people through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites. The full-length documentary and shorter films inform the public that there is a critical need for funding for pediatric cancer research and that they, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and our elected leaders are in a position to help. Through the film, we introduce the public to the world of childhood cancer and invite them to be a voice for all children fighting cancer. We accomplish this by showing very personal, compelling and inspiring stories of children fighting cancer. This touches our viewers on an emotional level and motivates them to take action on behalf of children with cancer. This show of support has sent a strong message to Congress, the White House and the NCI.

The Truth 365 Join the Movement photo by The Gold Hope Project

1. Tell us about your organization. What is your mission?

The Truth 365 is the social media awareness campaign of Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation. Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation’s mission is to promote and advance the science and art of medicine related to the study of pediatric cancer cells and related structures, to support and enhance education in pediatric oncology fields, to support and enhance pediatric oncology research and in allied fields, to facilitate, improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting pediatric cancer cells and related structures and doing and engaging in any and all activities that may be necessary or incidental to any or all of the foregoing purposes.

Our mission is to (1) provide funds to medical and/or scientific personnel and/or institutions to participate in local, regional and/or national research programs for the study of pediatric cancer diseases and allied fields in effort to treat and/or cure such diseases, (2) to provide educational materials and/or medical equipment to medical and/or scientific personnel and/or institutions for the study of pediatric cancer and related diseases in effort to treat and/or cure such diseases, (3) to provide literary information, support and education concerning pediatric cancer and related diseases to medical and/or scientific personnel as well as the general public at no cost in an effort to raise public awareness of such diseases so as to promote early detection and treatment.

2. Why was your organization established? Tell us your why? On July 6, 2008, the lives of Dena and Billy Sherwood changed forever when their then 13-month-old son, Billy Jr., was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a very aggressive cancer of the sympathetic nervous system that most commonly occurs in infants and children under the age of five. In August of 2009, in the midst of their son’s aggressive treatment, Dena and Billy founded Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation

Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation is working closely with scientists, researchers and doctors; who are pioneers in the pediatric cancer field, who are on the forefront bringing many alternative therapies into clinic which could prolong the lives of children diagnosed with cancer until a cure is funded.

Right now there are 40,000 children being treated for childhood cancer but research funding is limited as pharmaceutical companies do not see the efforts as profitable. Recognizing that children should not be viewed as a profit, but, rather, our investment, Arms Wide Open raises money for alternative therapies and actual treatments these children so desperately need in order to survive.

The Truth 365 Join the Movement photo by The Gold Hope Project

Services

3. What are the services you offer to pediatric cancer patients? One hundred percent of all money raised by or for The Truth 365 goes directly into childhood cancer research. Arms Wide Open has many way that we offer services to pediatric cancer patients. We fund research and clinical trials that have made a huge difference in the lives of many children with cancer.

While our primary mission is to fund research for safer and less toxic treatments, helping families is also a key reason that AWOCCF exists. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the entire family. Arms Wide Open is dedicated to helping families emotionally, spiritually and financially. Here are some ways that we assist families.

  • AWOCCF hosts the Hope and Healing Bereavement Retreat for families who have lost a child to cancer. The free three-day retreat is held at Skytop Lodge in Skytop, PA.
  • Arms Wide Open provides monthly grants to families suffering hardship due to their child’s cancer diagnosis. Complete and email this form to kristen@awoccf.org
  • AWOCCF sponsors the Monthly Women’s Integrative Wellness Night at the Ronald McDonald House NYC each month. Caregivers of children with cancer enjoy a few hours of respite as they receive spa treatments, lite fare and gift bags.

We also have a compassionate crowdfunding program called “Helping Hands” that allows families to raise money for their own needs due to the financial burdens of  childhood cancer. Families are able to keep 100% of the money they raise with no transaction fees. Arms Wide Open takes care of any costs associated.

Another way we help families and other childhood cancer foundations is by hosting “CureFest for Childhood Cancer” each year in Washington, Dc during September (Childhood Cancer Awareness Month). Thousands of people come together as ONE VOICE against childhood cancer. There is a Rally to the Capitol, a Meet & Greet, a Candlelight Vigil to the White House, a 3 mike Walk, and the CureFest Festival on the National Mall.

4. What do you wish more people knew about your non profit or the work you are accomplishing? I guess we wish more people knew about all the opportunities available through Arms Wide Open/The Truth 365. Our goal is to reach as many people as we can and to            help as many families as we can.

Get Involved

5. How can we get involved in helping you achieve your mission? One way you can get involved is to share the posts we make on The Truth 365. We are currently collecting signatures on a petition https://www.thetruth365.org/petitionRaising awareness and reaching out to your local representatives will help, as well. 

We are so happy to share with you The Truth 365 and Arms Wide Open and the many ways they are serving the childhood cancer community.  Visit their website if you would like more information about or to get involved.

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Henry is a wise soul. He is sweet and sensitive. His sense of humour is amazing. He giggles.. oh does he giggle.. when he finds something funny – like Bugs Bunny cartoons or a funny joke. He loves sports and is a huge fan of all of Toronto’s major league teams. He is musical, and plays the piano and ukelele. He is a kind older brother and he is loved loved loved by his family.

Henry was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on April 27, 2016. Before his diagnosis he had a lump on his hip, leg pain, elbow joint swelling and ankle joint swelling. ALL has a long treatment plan that includes killing the current cancer cells, riding the body of any future cancer cells and finally to kill any cancer cells that might still remain after those first two phases. Chemotherapy is usually the standard approach to kill ALL cancer cells and Henry has had lots of it! Even in his sickest, weakest moments, Henry has been good spirited and brave. We’ve been so proud of his strength.

Cancer has changed so much for our family. Our family has faced many struggles: worry, stress, depression, (temporary) loss of income. But it has also slowed us down. It has made us grateful. We don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. We appreciate our family, friends, and community so much more. It has taught us to appreciate the important things in life.

Free photos for pediatric cancer patients family of 4 photo by The Gold Hope ProjectFree photos for pediatric cancer patients siblings hugging photo by The Gold Hope ProjectFree photos for pediatric cancer patients siblings playing photo by The Gold Hope ProjectFree photos for pediatric cancer patients boy with all photo by The Gold Hope ProjectFree photos for pediatric cancer patients family of 4 playing photo by The Gold Hope ProjectFree photos for pediatric cancer patients siblings hugging photo by The Gold Hope ProjectFree photos for pediatric cancer patients family of 4 playing photo by The Gold Hope ProjectFree photos for pediatric cancer patients family of 4 photo by The Gold Hope Project

Hope session by Rachel Brencur Photography.  facebook | instagram

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Mitchell is a funny and very smart kid. He catches on to things very quickly and loves to play with “his girls” (his sisters). He likes anything that is the color green, loves construction trucks and trains, and enjoys play doh. He also has quite a fascination with police cars and fire trucks. His smile is amazing!

In the fall of last year, Mitchell was experiencing a decreased appetite and naseua. Mitchell was diagnosed on September 28th with Wilms Tumor, a type of kidney cancer. At the time of diagnosis, you could almost feel and see the large tumor in his abdomen. Some other common symptoms include the following: blood in urine, constipation, and fever. Wilms Tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer in children. Treatment plans usually consist of chemotherapy and surgery to remove the tumor. Mitchel’s treatment so far has included chemo, a nephrectomy, radiation and surgery to have a port placed.

Mitchell’s diagnosis was really hard for us because I was so involved with my older children’s activities and I’ve stepped back from that quite a bit. it has definitely changed our focus and my husband has taken on a more active role in our day to day especially when Mitchell has to be in the hospital. I feel guilty about not getting as much time with my other children.

Mitchell has been so brave and he amazes me all the time. I’m proud to be his mother. His sisters have been really helpful as well and they help him feel better.

boy with wilms tumor smiling photo by The Gold Hope Projectfamily smiling photo by The Gold Hope ProjectPhoto sessions cancer patients boy hugging mother photo by The Gold Hope ProjectPhoto sessions cancer patients siblings laughing photo by The Gold Hope ProjectPhoto sessions cancer patients siblings with glitter photo by The Gold Hope ProjectPhoto sessions cancer patients boy with wilms tumor photo by The Gold Hope ProjectPhoto sessions cancer patients family holding hands photo by The Gold Hope Project

Mitchell’s support page

Hope Session by Molly O Photography.  facebook | instagram

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Landon is a happy loving kid. He loves being outside and his second favorite thing is playing on his Ipad.

When Landon was just seven months old, we noticed he had shortness of breath. We thought that was odd. The doctors

took a chest x-ray and noticed that his heart looked enlarged. They decided to transfer him to Children’s Memorial Herman in Houston. When the doctors at CMH took another chest x-ray, they found a large tumor that was putting pressure on his lungs and heart. So that is how this difficult journey of Neuroblastoma cancer began. Neuroblastoma often occurs in children under 5 and is the most common type of cancer that affects babies under 1.

Landon has had 3 years worth of chemotherapy, 12 rounds of immunotherapy, 4 surgeries, and 20 rounds of proton therapy. Landon’s treating hospital is 3 1/2 hours away from our home. Landon and I stay in Fort Worth, Texas to be close to the hospital. His dad and grandfather visit every weekend. It is a struggle not being able to be home and have a “normal” life.

Landon is nervous around strangers and is socially delayed. He has never been able to go to daycare or Mother’s Day out due to treatment or his counts being low. He is still fighting and has a good prognosis.

When I was asked what kind of pictures I wanted of Landon, my reply was him just getting to be a little boy. After many long hospital stays, living out of town, and shots and pokes, I look at these pictures and my heart fills with love and my eyes fill with tears. They are just so precious.

Landon’s support page

Hope session by Piper Anne Photography.  instagram | facebook

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