My daughter, Emmalee, was born with spina bifida and sees several different specialists at the hospital. Although we were quite familiar with the hospital, I never imagined it would eventually become like a second home. Two years ago, at the age of five, Emmalee was diagnosed with ALL (leukemia). We spent 23 days in the hospital at the beginning of our cancer battling journey. As a parent, those first few weeks were some of the hardest days of my life. In the beginning, I was so scared and worried. It didn't help my fears when we landed ourselves in the PICU a few days after her port was placed, and she had received her first chemo treatment. During this time, I had very little food or sleep. I was so weak, but I knew that I needed to stay strong for my daughter. I'll never forget the day we got out of PICU and back to the hem/onc unit. We weren't in our room but a few hours and some ladies came in with a cart full of toys and snacks. They were tell- ing Emmalee to pick some things from the cart. She picked an item, and they would say, "What else would you like? How about this?" I couldn't help but to smile...just seeing Emmalee's face light up. She had been through so much in the last ten days...so to see her smile made me feel so relieved and so very happy. That was our very first encounter with B.I.G. Love. We have stayed on the hem/onc unit a lot these last two years. Emmalee has had several admissions for chemo, but she has had even more trips from being sick. Emmalee has always looked forward to seeing B.I.G. Love during our hospital visits. There have been several times that she would not meet counts to be admitted for chemo, and every time she would burst into tears because she wanted to be admitted so that she could see B.I.G. Love. I don't think our doctor was used to seeing his five year old patient cry because she wasn't getting admitted to the hospital. Every time she would get sick and run a fever, we would have to go to the ER. Even with her being so sick, she was okay with leaving home and going to the hospital. She would say, "Well at least I'll get to see B.I.G. Love." Emmalee didn't get to start kindergarten with the rest of her peers. She was stuck at home getting only four hours per week with a homebound teacher. During this time, while we were inpatient, B.I.G. Love got her different learning materials such as writing paper and different learning activities. They have done so much for us that I could go on and on. I had to quit my job when Emmalee got sick so we didn't have a lot of money to do all the things I so desired to do for her. Also as a cancer family, you really don't know how much time you have left with your child, you try to make the best of each day. B.I.G. Love really helped to make so many of Emmalee's dreams come true. I am just so beyond thankful for everything they have done for us. I truly feel so blessed that they were a part of our journey. They brought so many smiles to Emmalee's face during some of her worst days. Not only that, but they kept the parent room stocked full of snacks. The little things they do for us parents such as keeping flavored coffee cream in the parent room. That seems so silly to say that some French vanilla coffee cream would brighten up your day but when your stuck in the hospital watching your child fight for their life, you need something to help keep you going. There were so many times when Emmalee was so sick that I didn't want to leave her side even to go to the cafeteria to eat. Not only that, but I couldn't always afford to go, so it was nice being able to go grab a snack or something to eat out of the parent room. In the beginning I wasn't really sure what B.I.G. Love was about because they didn't pass out any information about their organization. I just took it upon myself to do some research, and when
I learned why they do what they do it just made me have even more respect for them. Jessica is such an inspiration to me. She gave me hope just knowing that she has been in my shoes. Even though her daughter lost her battle to cancer in this same very hospital, her spirit lives on through this organization. The smiles they bring to these sick kids faces is absolutely priceless. I can not imagine how our battle would have been if B.I.G. Love had not been a part of it. I don't think Emmalee would have been so happy about being admitted."
"During many of our stays, we have relied upon BIG Love and their weekly grocery delivery. Not only can we get the foods my daughter likes, but we are able to get sandwich ingredients to feed ourselves during the times we can't get away from the room or can't afford to eat in the cafeteria. Not only that, but they can provide us with the little things that remind my daughter of home, like the laundry detergent we use or softer toilet paper. Another wonderful service that BIG Love provides is the toy cart. You should see the kids' eyes light up when the toy cart comes into a room, no matter how bad they are feeling. On several occasions, this quick visit has completely changed our day for the better. A small gift can make a huge difference. BIG Love is a wonderful asset to the Hematology/Oncology Unit. Our kids are very special and go through so much and BIG Love helps make this time easier."