A Day for Virginia – Childhood Cancer Awareness

Author: Jessica Woolwine
Published Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Author Jessica Woolwine and her son JacksonJackson and I had the pleasure of visiting Richmond on Virginia Childhood Cancer Awareness Day this past February 15.

When I was first approached about going, I almost said no. I’m not super political and if I’m honest, delving back into the cancer world takes a lot out of me. Childhood cancer was and IS a big part of who I am today, but it’s emotionally taxing to talk about it.

But when I discovered the date of the trip was Jackson’s diagnosis anniversary … well, I had to say yes.

It was an early morning for Jackson and I. We had to get from Yorktown to Richmond by 8 a.m., first dropping off his siblings with my mom. On our drive, Jackson had some questions, and since I didn’t know what to expect from the visit, I didn’t have a lot of answers. Looking over at him, sitting in his khakis and button up shirt, I could tell he was nervous.

We finally arrived, and after taking 10 minutes to figure out how the elevator worked and where we were supposed to go, we walked into a room FULL of cancer advocates! The excitement was palpable. Healthcare providers and representatives from CHKD, along with others from around the state were there to meet with delegates and senators about the effects of childhood cancer. After a quick introduction and instructions, we were all given our marching orders and off we went. Since there wasn’t any pediatric cancer legislation that we were pushing (this year), our meetings focused on raising awareness about childhood cancer.

Throughout the day we met with legislative aides, one whose college girlfriend battled pediatric cancer, and landed a one-on-one with a very kind delegate who listened attentively to our story. At each visit, we passed out yellow childhood cancer ribbons and talked about our experiences.

Jackson and our new friend, Logan, really scored some major goodies. We’re still eating the chocolate he collected!

But mostly, we shared important facts that the public should know, like:

  • Seventy-five kids are diagnosed with pediatric cancer each year in Hampton Roads.
  • One out of five will die from that cancer.
  • Two-thirds of all survivors, like Jackson, will have lifelong effects to deal with like heart and lung damage, or cognitive and learning disabilities.
  • Anxiety and depression affects the majority of survivors, no matter the age of diagnosis.
  • The top needs in our community are neuropsychological testing, educational support, psychological services and pediatric cancer research.
  • What an incredible experience. Jackson and I hope we can go back next year to continue to advocate for the additional resources and funding that pediatric cancer patients and survivors need and deserve.

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    About Jessica Woolwine

    Jessica Woolwine is a native of Hampton Roads and lives in Hampton with her three “miracles” Jackson (9), Abby (5) and Henry (1). As a mother to a childhood cancer survivor and a micro-preemie, she began the blog Mothering Miracles in 2014 to support other families dealing with health issues. Jessica also works as Creative Director for Rubin Communications Group and enjoys mixing her talents for graphic design and creative writing with community relations. She is a past member of both the CHKD Family Advisory Council and the CHKD NICU Family Advisory Council.