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Zara's Friends
By Whitney Bouchard

At first glance, the bright colors and toys scattered around the hospital playroom make the room appear happy. Even the adults who huddle there, do their best to put on “happy faces,” as they fight back tears.

Playing in the center of the storm, sits Zara, a two-and-a-half-year-old with luminescent eyes and a sweet smile.

Zara’s mother, Collette, brought Zara to the Children’s Hospital ER in early February with what she thought was an upper respiratory infection. Doctors ran tests that delivered a crushing blow. Zara has acute myeloid leukemia.

The family immediately understood the severity of the diagnosis. Collette is a social worker, who helps meet the needs of children and families who are battling this very same battle. Zara’s dad, Marcus, works in a hospital and is soon to be a registered nurse.

Yet it was unimaginable to comprehend how this vibrant little girl who loves to sing and dance is now having to battle cancer.

"Why now? Why Zara?" Collette remembers crying. "Please God, she is not even three years old. Her entire life is in front of her…Please. How could this happen to our family?"

Zara’s first round of chemotherapy was scheduled to start immediately. The doctors said Zara would need to remain in the hospital for as long as six months. The stress of this unexpected situation began to take a huge toll on the family.

"Where do we turn for help?" Zara’s aunt, Sylvie, remembers thinking. "We need to find someone who has been through this experience to help us better understand what to expect and to stay focused."

Then Sylvie got the idea to call the Rock Church, where she had been worshiping at the 12 PM service for more than four years. The Rock told the family about Rock Cancer C.A.R.E., a new ministry founded by a cancer survivor named Tamela Reed. Its goal is to be the “gap filler” for cancer patients and their families. Whether is a physical, emotional, or spiritual need, Rock Cancer C.A.R.E exists to help patients and families cope with the challenges of cancer.

Collette and Sylvie first talked to Maria, the Rock Cancer C.A.R.E. intake coordinator. Maria’s role is to find out the needs of patients and their families. Maria then communicates the information to the ministry’s leadership team.

The Rock Cancer C.A.R.E. leaders quickly connected with their volunteers to help Zara’s family. Volunteers provided home-cooked meals the very first week of Zara’s chemo. They continue to do so on a weekly basis. Volunteers have also been praying for Zara and her family, as well as visiting them. Some generous volunteers have even provided financial support in different ways.

Whether is a physical, emotional, or spiritual need, Rock Cancer C.A.R.E exists to help patients and families cope with the challenges of cancer.

"We never expected Rock Cancer C.A.R.E. to come to our aid so quickly with so many people ready and willing to help.” says Collette. “We feel truly blessed to have met and gotten to know so many wonderful individuals who have truly shown God’s love."

Zara continues to endure chemo treatments, with three more to go. But as long as she and her family need help, Cancer C.A.R.E. will be there to help meet their needs, not only spiritually and emotionally but to also fill the "gaps."

For more information about the Cancer Care Ministry, click here »