Former First Lady Barbara Bush encourages others to "be there" for families fighting cancer

By Steve Helling
Updated September 11, 2015 01:20 PM
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In 1953, George and Barbara Bush got some devastating news: their three-year-old daughter, Robin had leukemia and was given just weeks to live.

Although 62 years have passed, the former First Lady still recalls the painful memories. In an exclusive blog post for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, she opens up about her family’s ordeal.

“When we learned in 1953 that our then three-year-old daughter, Robin, had leukemia, we were both overwhelmed,” she writes. “Robin underwent blood transfusions and painful bone marrow tests, but after a courageous seven months, she passed away. We were heartbroken.”

She also shares how George Bush Sr. dealt with the illness. “Before work each morning, George would stop by the Presbyterian church,” she writes. “A custodian there knew about Robin s illness, and George says he felt his presence there joining him in prayer. The seemingly little and practical made an enormous difference.”

She then encourages readers to take the pledge to “be there” for families of children fighting cancer. “None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something, whether it’s making dinner for a family, offering to pick up siblings from school or soccer practice, spreading the word, or giving to organizations who are there to help.”

Bush’s blog is part of New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin’s initiative to encourage the public to BE THERE for families who are battling childhood cancer. Coughlin talked with PEOPLE about the foundation last month.

For the campaign, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation encourages people to use the hashtag #BETHERE on social media profiles. Practically, they recommend providing practical support to the families – running errands, doing chores, making meals. And, of course, they can donate to the Foundation.

Barbara Bush’s full blog post can be read here.