Local nonprofit helping pediatric brain cancer families in need of financial assistance

This content is provided by the Lilabean Foundation.

Everyday eleven new children are diagnosed with brain cancer. Imagine finding out that your child has been diagnosed with a disease that in some cases can have a six to nine month life expectancy. Now imagine losing your job due to the pandemic.

One local non-profit is doing its part to help families who are in dire need of financial assistance – and in some cases, a miracle.

The Lilabean Foundation (LBF) is a local Maryland non-profit formed in 2011 with the singular focus of funding pediatric brain cancer research. Since then LBF has raised over 1.5 million dollars, which has been donated directly to research efforts at the Brain Tumor Institute at Children’s National Health System and to the Children’s Brain Tumor Network. In response to the pandemic, that singlular focus has taken up a new side mission – helping pediatric brain cancer families in dire need of financial assistance.

“Our mission is clear – raise money for research. Innovative, targeted new therapies are the only way we treat pediatric brain cancer. However, after learning about these families, it was clear we needed to step up and help.” said Nicole Giroux, Executive Director and Founder of LBF. Ms. Giroux’s daughter, Lila, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 15 months.

Over the past year, LBF ran two campaigns aiming to raise money to help ease the financial burdens of pediatric brain cancer families. They raised close to $30,000 – all of which went directly to families in need to help pay monthly bills.

However, more is needed. As the holidays approach, the foundation is looking to raise additional money to not only offset monthly expenses, but also to give the families some extra spending money to be used on gifts.

“Their stories are heart-breaking. I know what it’s like to have your life turned upside down by pediatric brain cancer. Add to that losing a job, being single parent or not being able to pay for rent or gas. I can’t even imagine…” added Ms. Giroux.

Heart-breaking is an accurate description. LBF shared these brief stories about some of the families that the money is going to:

Sergio is a six-year-old boy who was just diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), which has a life expectancy of nine months. His dad has not been able to work because Sergio has gained a lot of weight due to the steroids necessary for his treatment. His mom is no longer able to lift him or manage his care at home alone. They have limited family support.

Melissa is 10 years old and was diagnosed with a high-grade malignant tumor. After surgery she was unable to move her right side and remained in inpatient at NRH until the end of August. Her mother died four years ago and her father doesn’t have a car, making it difficult for him to get to and from the hospital to be with her.

Haley is three years old. She was diagnosed with a high-grade malignant brain tumor in 2020. She underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy followed by radiation. Haley’s dad lost his job due to cutbacks from Covid. Neither of her parents are currently employed.

Abidel is a two-year-old boy who was diagnosed with brain cancer in February 2020. He has endured long hospital stays due to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Abidel’s dad cutback his hours at work to stay with him in the hospital during the day. He works at night. Abidel’s mom stays home during the day and helps his three siblings with virtual schooling and stays with Abdiel in the hospital at night.

“These families need us. The holidays are a hopeful time. Everyone deserves to feel that hope. We not only want to help with typical monthly expenses, but we want to be able to give these families a little extra, so that they can buy gifts and provide their children that same hope.” said Ms. Giroux.

To help and provide hope, you can make a donation to the Lilabean Foundation’s family relief fund here. The foundation also offers other ways in which you can help, like becoming an 11for11 member, where for only $11 a month, less than 40¢ a day, you can help make an impact. Learn more here.

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