Several days a month, Brynna Allen can be found pushing her baby dolls through the ASK Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.
Katie Barber, ASK Child Life Specialist, knows the name of every baby doll, and can tell if they’re happy or grumpy that day. That’s because Katie has been with Brynna and her family since she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age two, and she touches every family that is treated at the clinic.
“Brynna’s diagnosis was so dire that we were told she may not survive through the night she was diagnosed,” remembers Karen, Brynna’s mom. “We couldn’t know what was ahead of us, but the staff of ASK did, and they’ve been with us every step of the way. Nothing phases Katie, and she’s always there with a smile and an idea to help us through the next phase of treatment.”
From diagnosis to adult survivorship, ASK provides programs and services to help make life better for pediatric cancer patients and their families, including financial assistance.
"It’s never easy to ask for financial assistance, but when we learned about this portion of ASK’s services, they made it so easy for us. For instance, when a portion of our roof needed to be replaced, they not only provided financial assistance, but also gave us recommendations for companies that they have worked with. There was no stress for us, just deep gratitude,” says Karen.
Brynna and her brothers look forward to the ASK events and parties. “The first year of diagnosis and treatment were very aggressive and hard. We couldn’t attend many of the functions, but now we look forward to attending events as a family. This year we’re really looking forward to the Mommy & Me Spa Day in March! I also love that ASK includes Brynna’s brothers in so many events, like the Candy Land party, family picnic, annual Holiday Party, and so much more. It means the world to us that the siblings of these amazing kids, are taken care of and included as well.”
Karen is grateful for the impact ASK makes on her family every day. “ASK provides a tremendous amount of services for pediatric cancer patients, newborn through young adult. Everyone gets the same amazing and supportive care that is above and beyond what we even know we need. Before Brynna’s diagnosis, I’d never heard of the ASK. Now, I can’t imagine going through this without the clinical and administrative staff of the ASK. They are truly amazing!”