- Both survivors began their battles during the height of the pandemic, enduring hazmat suits and COVID tests
- Families sought support from the Childhood Cancer Family Foundation of Northeast Wisconsin, discovering more than financial aid.
- "I found somebody that I was actually able to talk and kind of relate to on a level that I haven't been able to with anybody else."
In Appleton, In a neighborhood served by the Childhood Cancer Family Foundation of Northeast Wisconsin, I had the privilege of meeting two incredible survivors who, despite facing the daunting challenges of childhood cancer, discovered resilience and support within themselves and each other—all thanks to the help of a local non-profit.
"It threw my life pretty much on a loop," recounts 20-year-old Anna Stencil, highlighting her diagnosis of an aggressive brain cancer in 2021.
"It's affected me a lot more than I ever thought. It's like the little things. I can't run anymore, period. I can't jump,” says 19-year-old cancer survivor, Marshall Patton who was diagnosed first in 2020 with a rare bone cancer, then again recently when the cancer returned, this time to his lungs. Marshall had to have part of his lung removed.
Anna and Marshall's cancer battles both happened during the height of the pandemic, intensifying the challenges.
“I had to go through my 9 months of my cancer-related stuff, in the midst of hazmat suits and COVID tests," he says. “I had nobody, I was trapped in my room. Thankfully my nurses were incredible so I didn’t feel completely alone but it was rough.”
In both cases, their cancer return, leading to long-term reliance on oral chemotherapy drugs. Anna describes the toll the rug has on her health, sharing,
"I'm always exhausted, I take a 1 to 2-hour nap a day. Um yeah, it's hard."
Seeking support, both Anna and Marshall’s families turned to the Childhood Cancer Family Foundation of Northeast Wisconsin. Their journey revealed more than financial support; it gave them a community that understood their struggles. Marshall expresses, "I found somebody that I was actually able to talk and kind of relate to on a level that I haven't been able to with anybody else."
Sarah-Beth Janssen, President, and Co-Founder of the Children’s Cancer Family Foundation, leads a team of volunteers that has already assisted nearly 220 local families, contributing over $700,000 in grants since its inception in 2016.
"We have an amazing group of very passionate people committed to giving back to the community and positively impacting families who are going through the worst," says Janssen.
Despite facing ongoing challenges, both Anna and Marshall plan to use their experiences to advocate for the future of pediatric cancer patients.
“Getting that diagnosis, it obviously wasn’t the best diagnosis but I feel like God put me on a path to doing cancer research which is what I want to do. So, I feel like if I didn’t get that diagnosis I wouldn’t be on this path,” says Anna. "It really built who I am. I guess I can thank cancer for making me the person I am today."
The Childhood Cancer Family Foundation of Northeast Wisconsin is NBC 26’s Three Degree Guarantee partner.
To learn more about the foundation or to learn how you can help. Click HERE.