Why We Do It
Two short days ago, you were told that your 4-year old daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer. She just came out of a nine-hour surgery, and you are expecting that she has at least two weeks of recovery in the hospital. Now it has been recommended for you to relocate your child to an unfamiliar city for 6-12 weeks of outpatient treatment to give her the best chance for survival.
Your head swims with questions:
• Will your employer let you take 3 months off?
• Who will take care of your other children when you are gone?
• Where will you find a place to live that will be acceptable for your sick child in this city you have never been?
• You can barely afford your current rent or mortgage – how are you going to pay for a second home?
• Where do you even start?
The Super Cooper Foundation was created to alleviate at least some of these concerns for families who have just been dealt a devastating blow. We empower these families and strengthen their children by providing a comfortable home to stay during treatments at UNC and Duke Hospitals, as well as provide an array of support services and a sense of community. Childhood cancer affects the whole family. The Super Cooper Foundation’s desire is to reduce the financial and logistical strains for these families so they can focus on their child and fighting this non-discriminating disease.
And it’s working. The Foundation has provided a home away from home for more than 35 families in the past year. The Foundation has two dedicated apartments at the Ronald McDonald House in Durham to serve patients at Duke and one townhouse in Chapel Hill for families receiving care at Duke or UNC hospitals, in addition to two other dedicated apartments in the Triangle area. At a ReCOOPeration house, a family can enjoy a meal delivered from families in the surrounding community, watch TV and spend time in an environment that is safe, clean, private and welcoming for their child, who may have a weakened immune system because of radiation or chemotherapy.
“The home has been well utilized. It has been a safe haven and a place of rest and warmth and peace for many families going through a tumultuous time.” – Dr. Stuart H. Gold, M.D., Professor, Pediatrics Hematology/Oncology – UNC Medical Center
The Need Is Real
Consider these facts:
• 28,000 children in the U.S. are living with a brain tumor diagnosis.
• 4,600+ children are diagnosed with a brain tumor every year in the U.S.
• Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children 1 to 14 years of age.
Now look at this typical eight-week radiation treatment scenario that a child diagnosed with pediatric cancer will undergo. This shows the mountain of expenses families would face if not for the Super Cooper Little Red Wagon Foundation providing a convenient home away from home as well as many other support service such as food, fuel cards and parking passes.
We’ve Been There
Super Cooper’s Little Red Wagon Foundation grew out of Elise and Justin Herman’s experience as their son, Cooper, was treated for brain and spinal cancer. They saw parents sleeping in chairs in hospital rooms or struggling with hotel and food bills while trying to focus on their family’s needs. As they traversed the country seeking treatment for Cooper, racking up huge hotel and travel expenses along the way, they knew other families must be struggling even more than they. So, even amid the strain of caring for Cooper, the family started the foundation to help others.
Cooper lost his battle on January 19, 2014, but his life continues to inspire us. Our memory will always be of his infectious laugh, love of music, desire to play even through the pain and fatigue and the courage that came shining through as he asked his healthcare providers before a procedure, “How are you today?” His smiles and hugs he gave in the face of so many obstacles will be forever in our hearts. Cooper’s memory lives on through Super Cooper’s Little Red Wagon Foundation.