COLORADO — A diagnosis of childhood cancer can be a long and isolating battle for families. It's a battle one family in Peyton has been fighting for the last year and a half.
Four-year-old Charlie Jessup was just two years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of blood cancer and the most common type of childhood cancer. He and his family were living in Utah at the time of his diagnosis, but his mother, Samantha Jessup, soon decided to get him closer to better treatment.
“I packed up my car and took Charlie and my youngest, who was one at the time, and we came out to Colorado," she said.
Her husband and their two other children stayed in Utah. Their family was separated for two months as Charlie began his two-and-a-half-year journey with chemotherapy.
“We just kind of made it work because that’s what you do when your kid gets cancer. You do whatever you have to do," said Samantha.
She said she quickly realized how isolating their new lives had become as they centered themselves around Charlie's health.
“There’s like a huge rally of support at the beginning when they’re diagnosed and there’s GoFundMes and blankets and stuffed animals and toys everywhere but then it just kind of dies off and you’re still in this battle," she said.
That's when they found There With Care, a nonprofit with offices in Denver and Boulder, that serves families with children facing life-threatening illnesses. There With Care delivers bi-monthly packages of groceries, toiletries, gas cards, activities for whole families, and more to families that are referred to the program after a medical diagnosis.
"They have groceries, and diapers, and wipes, and they do gas cards... just everything you could think of to put on a grocery list, they have for you," said Samantha.
Paula DuPré Pesmen, the CEO and founder of There With Care, said the nonprofit aims to help take some of the stress off families and show up for them when they need it most.
“Cancer and critical illness just doesn’t hit just the patient. It affects everyone in the family, and anything that we can do to help hold them together is what we should be doing," said Pesmen.
Pesman started There With Care out of her home 18 years ago. It has since grown to serve 260 families each day.
“The idea of There With Care was born around finding people who want to help and people who need them and to connect them. And bring community to these families.”
She said the nonprofit has seen a 40% increase in need for services since COVID, highlighting the hardships many of these families are facing. Families are referred to the program by a social worker, taking into account their financial status, presence of support, and medical diagnosis.
Samantha said There With Care has allowed them to continue making memories together as a family, despite the battle they are facing. Charlie will finish his chemotherapy treatment next August. Until then his family is just thankful they've had so much support from strangers that became family.
From now until the end of the year, There With Care will double any donation made to the organization. You can click here to donate.
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