In February of 2009, Elizabeth Campanelli was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. She was fourteen and a student in the Pocono Mountain East high school. Due to the fact that Pocono Medical Center does not treat pediatric cancer patients, her family was forced to seek treatment far from home at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. For eighteen months, her treatment involved both extended stays in the Philadelphia area as well as weekly and bi-weekly, outpatient treatment appointments. In order to meet these appointments for treatments, her family incurred considerable travel expenses. These types of expenses could not be deferred like some medical costs might be able to be. Gas, food, tolls, parking and lodging were all up front expenses which were tough to meet when Elizabeth’s parents had their income cut due to her Dad taking unpaid family leave from his job in order to stay by his daughter’s side.
Elizabeth lost her battle in April of 2011. Lizzie’s Circle was formed in August of 2011 and registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State as a non-profit organization. In February 2012, the board of directors applied to the IRS for tax exemption status. That 501(c)3 status was granted in September of 2012. Lizzie’s Circle serves families residing in Monroe County, Pennsylvania that have pediatric cancer patients in active treatment for their illness. Assistance is three-part, incorporating the following on a family specific need basis:
1. Financial assistance
2. Coaching by experienced community members involved in various fundraiser efforts in order to raise funds for the family.
3. Access to skilled professionals who are willing to make high cost repairs during the active treatment period of their child, solely for the cost of parts and not their labor.
Often times, the family has other children who need to be cared for and kept in their own home in order to attend school. The regular household bills need to be paid all the while, the family having limited or no income. Most insurance plans leave parents responsible for a percentage of the medical bills and cancer is an illness that needs long term, active treatment.
Not all needs are financial, as we have come to find by working with various families since forming Lizzie’s Circle. Since each family’s needs are different, Lizzie’s Circle strives to assist with finances as well as family specific needs as they arise. On average, one child per month is newly diagnosed with cancer or suffers a relapse. Lizzie’s Circle is the only dedicated resource in Monroe County that serves its residents who have a child diagnosed with cancer, exclusively.