When cancer strikes, take care of caregivers

- All this month, the American Cancer Society will be holding kickoff parties to help businesses and individuals put together a team to Make Strides Against Breast Cancer. 

The walks are in October and the money raised helps fund many American Cancer Society programs in the Bay Area.

An amazing group of women who are benefiting from the programs serve as an example for why everyone should get involved. They are not cancer patients, but their children are, thrusting them into the role of caregivers.

Often, they don't get the support they need.

We caught up with the group whose members care for children with cancer. They had a well-deserved surprise spa day at Mikel's Salon.

Laura Eicher explains, "If you haven't had a diagnosis of cancer it would be similar to maybe a car crash - everything changes right at that moment."

Dr. Loan Lam is a volunteer for The American Cancer Society and helped set up the spa day, made possible by a generous donor.

"The auction winner at The Cattle Barron's Ball donated it back, and we asked these wonderful ladies to come in and enjoy a caregiver day," Dr. Lam explained.

The moms had to be convinced it was okay. 

"Sometimes you feel like your identity, oh here I go again, see I told you I'm a good crier, I am always McKinley's mom, so you lose yourself a little bit," mom and caregiver Karen Moore said.

A day at the spa may give their spirits a makeover, but a helping hand from family and friends is what gets them through their rough days. 

Mother and caregiver Caroline came to a point where she spent more time at the hospital with her little one, Jackson than she did at home. She described the difficulties of that change.

"I have two younger children. Oh, now I'm going to cry," she said through tears. "It affects them too. It was hard for them not to see mom and dad and their brother for a year. "

But family and friends often rallied with pick-ups and drop-offs.

Karen Moore said having help kept her family from sinking.

"They would bring meals three days a week. They'd drop them off, just people volunteering to drop off food or gift cards or gas cards," she said.

Laura Eicher added, "People are scrambling, saying 'Do you have pets? What do you need? Because you're not going home.'"

And Katherine Macrone said, "People coming and supporting Evan, that made him incredibly happy."

Unfortunately, not all of these kids with cancer make it and the strain on a family after a loss is something indescribable. The Macrone family lost Evan during a Make a Wish trip. Katherine remembers the day.

"Our whole family was with him," she said. "He wrote a poem. He was an old soul, and I miss him."

When the worst happens, family and friends can just listen and share good memories.  If you'd like to read Evan's entire poem, Linda Hurtado posted it on her Facebook page, facebook.com/TheLindaHurtado/ 

It's not a poem about dying. It's a poem about living - and how to live better for whatever time you have left.

The FOX 13 Care Force is teaming up with the American Cancer Society to Make Strides Against Cancer. The upcoming Making Strides kickoff parties will help participants form teams for the walks and become successful leaders.

Here's what you need to know to make your reservation ahead of the kickoff parties:

- Pinellas kickoff: Thursday, August 17, Vinoy Golf Club, 6 p.m. / Reservations at makingstrideswalk.org/pinellasfl

- Hillsborough kickoff: Thursday, August 24, Straz Center, 6 p.m. / Reservations at makingstrideswalk.org/tampafl

- Pasco kickoff: Thursday, August 24, Hilton Gardens Inn Suncoast Parkway, 6 p.m. / Reservations at makingstrideswalk.org/pascofl

- Polk kickoff: Saturday, October 24, Lake Mirror, 6 p.m. / Reservations at makingstrideswalk.org/polkfl

The Making Strides walks take place in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Join FOX 13's Linda Hurtado, Chris Cato and Ken Suarez at participating events:

- Pinellas: Saturday, October 14 - Vinoy Park - 9 a.m.

- Pasco: Saturday, October 14 - The Shops at Wiregrass -  9 a.m.

- Polk: Saturday, October 14 - Lake Mirror - 9 a.m.

- Hillsborough: Saturday, October 28 - Amalie Arena - 9 a.m.

For more information about Making Strides events near you, go to
https://secure.Acsevents.Org/site/spageserver/;jsessionid=00000000.App305b?Nonce_token=2717ec07d60d330c5ff25c48024c5d0b&pagename=strides_find_event

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