Real Life Support

A childhood cancer diagnosis is devastating to families. Treatment requires months and sometimes years of therapy with many children who relapse facing five or more years of treatment.

Even with insurance coverage, unexpected non-medical expenses add additional stress and hardship to the family budget. This is why Candlelighters focuses on practical, emotional, and educational needs of children with cancer and their families. Candlelighters families are eligible for our services, with priority given to families in need. For more information on practical support, contact our Candlelighters Parent Consultants.

While a trip to ball games, amusement parks, and island retreats offer a family a getaway from cancer, the founding parents of our organization realized that what they as parents needed and wanted was the relief from the everyday burden of childhood cancer.  Our program provides that relief.  Faced with mounting costs, and many times with the loss of income from one parent, families struggle with the day to day hardships that come with a diagnosis of cancer.

Our Candlelighters Parent Consultants are there, in the hospital and clinic to offer that relief.  Families do not have to wait to be reimbursed for expenses, they do not have to file claims, they do not have to try and call someone and wait on the phone for an answer.  We are right there with the practical support they need and can personally deliver that support.  As survivors, our Candlelighters Parent Consultants are all too familiar with the financial strain that accompanies a battle with childhood cancer.  Our practical support programs are a direct result of those experiences and of being in the trenches every day and seeing what families need.

Parking Assistance:  Currently, parking at the Medical Center is $15 per day.  Add the addition of a parent who comes after work and parking can be $30 a day for many families.  If your child is in the hospital, if you visit the clinic several times a week, or if you find yourself in the emergency room, parking becomes an enormous cost.   Physicians, social workers and parents tell us that parking remains a number one economic concern for our parents.

Meal Passes:  Imagine coming to the clinic for a routine visit and being told that your child needs more tests and you will be staying for the day.  What you thought was a quick visit, now is an all day affair.  Or imagine that your child is in the hospital and you forgot to bring something to eat because you were too busy or too stressed to pack a lunch.  Meal passes for the hospital cafeteria/food court allow parents and siblings the opportunity to have a quick meal and not leave the hospital.

Grocery Store Gift Certificates:  Grocery gift certificates allow many parents to have food at the hospital so they can prepare meals for their child whenever they want to eat. There are cooking facilities available at both hospitals and the Candlelighters gift cards have helped families buy the much needed groceries their families need while staying at the hospitals.  Candlelighters currently gives grocery store gift cards in $25 increments to Kroger and Fiesta locations.

Gas Cards:  These economic times have brought uncertainty in not only the job market, but in the rising cost of goods and services.  No where is that more apparent than in the fluctuating costs of gas.  We began purchasing gas gift certificates in response to the overwhelming number of families who are finding it cost prohibitive to drive to and from the Medical Center.

Funeral assistance:  Candlelighters offers support to families throughout their entire cancer journey – on treatment, off treatment, long term survivor and bereaved. We continue to offer support to those families who have lost their battle with childhood cancer.  When the time comes, Candlelighters is there to offer assistance to those families who face the heavy burden of funeral expenses.

Family Fun:  Beyond the walls of the hospital, our family programs offer a respite from cancer.  Camp CLIFF (Children Loved in Families Forever), our annual family camp, offers parents, siblings, and children with cancer a weekend retreat at beautiful Camp For All.  Held each autumn, the Family Fall Festival celebrates the season with games, carnival events, costume contests and amazing raffle prizes.  Adopt a Family for the Holidays pairs organizations, companies and individuals with a childhood cancer family for the holidays.  Long after the winter holidays are over, Summer Surprises brings a holiday spirit in the middle of the summer. Volunteers wrap and deliver presents to the children with cancer and their siblings who are spending their summer vacation at the clinic or the hospital.


Candlelighters Parent Consultants

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Children’s Cancer Hospital
Jaynie Hutchinson * Yuvisela Sifuentes *
Parent Consultant Bilingual Parent Consultant
[email protected] [email protected]
Texas Children’s Cancer Center
Maria Pena * Linda Pena *
Bilingual Parent Consultant Bilingual Parent Consultant
[email protected] [email protected]

Opal Goodman *
Family Development Coordinator

[email protected]