This Mom of 2 Helped Raise $100,000 for Childhood Cancer After Her Oldest was Diagnosed at 22 Months
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Name: Danielle Moss
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Cofounder and Owner of Anecdote and The Everygirl Media Group
Family situation: Married with two daughters, Margot, 2 1/2, and Kate, 8 months
Parenting "philosophy" in a sentence: Always lead with love and never let your children doubt how incredible you know they are, or how much you love them.
What was your journey to having the family life you have today?
My husband Conor and I got married in October 2017 and found out we were going to be parents a month after our wedding. We have two girls, Margot and Kate. Margot was diagnosed with Leukemia in May 2020 at 22 months and Kate was born just six weeks after, during the pandemic. I made the decision to take time off from work during Margot's frontline, the most aggressive part of her treatment, and Conor, who is a realtor, referred all of his clients out so we could rally around our girls.
When Margo was first diagnosed, we were in and out of the hospital. We felt so fortunate to be able to afford to be there and to have amazing health insurance because most families in treatment did not. After spending so much time there and eventually sharing our story and seeing the impact it had on other people, I remember talking to my husband about putting my energy into fundraising for all children with cancer and saying, "This feels like a mission. Why else would I have this many followers on Instagram and this blog where I can share my story if I can't do something positive with it?" Once the dust settled a bit after welcoming my second daughter, I reached out to Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago to ask how I could help fundraise.
Only 4 percent of the money the government spends on cancer research is allotted for treating childhood cancer and yet, 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday. Cancer is still the No. 1 cause of death by disease for kids in America, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, so this is not rare. Since posting about my family, I've heard from more than 40 parents who've all gone through it.
I knew I had this opportunity to do something so I set a goal. I wanted to raise $10,000. Once I did that, I wanted to go for $20,000, then $50,000. I worked to continue to hit my goals and once Margot finished her treatment, I had raised $100,000 — a combination of efforts through Lurie and Alex's Lemonade Stand, a foundation that helps fund treatments and research for childhood cancer.
Never in a million years did I think I would be a cancer mom, but it happened and the biggest lesson I learned was that there are countless families who are going through this that do not have the means to support themselves throughout. I just found out that Margot's first eight months of treatment came out to $789,000 — and we only paid $1,800.
Families are going bankrupt because their insurance isn't great or they don't have any to begin with. They're falling below the poverty line to try and get their kid through treatment. The needs are so great and so underfunded that I've made it my mission to help raise awareness and funds so all children can get the help they need. There are so many types of cancers so there's not going to be a single cure, but my mission is to raise as much awareness as possible.
Once you spend time on the pediatric oncology floor, you can't unsee the things you're going to see. Once you're part of that world there's no getting out of it, but there are also a lot of gifts that come with it, like gaining perspective and knowing what really matters.
I know that it's a really hard time right now for everyone, but if every single person donated a dollar or the cost of a cup of coffee, we could make a huge impact for other children and their families and I think that's a big thing.
I will never stop fighting for these kids and their parents until all cancer families get the help they deserve.
What's the best advice you can share with new parents?
Even when it's really hard to, try your best to enjoy the stages that aren't your favorite because one day you will forget most of the hard stuff and you will miss them. Ask for help, which I know isn't always the easiest with COVID, but don't try to do it all on your own. Always try to find the good where you can.
What would you want your kids to say about you as a parent?
I hope that they can say that I always respected them and that they loved me — not because I was their parent, but because they truly loved me as a person and as their friend. I would want them to say that they felt loved and have felt my love for them every single day.