When Erin Frykman was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 4 years old, parents Nathalia and David didn’t know what it would mean for their daughter. Two years later, Erin is cancer free.
She and her family decided to “pay it forward” by partnering with a company started by another Jewish cancer patient, North Carolina-based Resilience Gives.
Last year, Erin and 49 other pediatric cancer survivors donated just over 5,800 pairs of socks to children’s hospitals around the country through Resilience Gives’ Socks with Stories: Paying It Forward Initiative.
The Frykmans recently visited Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to make their donation, part of a larger effort to support children with pediatric cancer while sharing stories of resilience.
Each year, an estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. And although survival rates have increased to 80 percent of children living five years or more, according to the American Cancer Society, advocates like the Frykman family aren’t satisfied with one in five children dying.
“We saw Erin become much happier and actually interact with children who are going through the same hard times as her,” said mom Nathalia. “Showing these other kids that they’re not alone is really important.”
Plus the socks kept her feet warm when she was going through treatment, Nathalia told the AJT. “She said she was very sad her shoes wouldn’t fit when she had to stay at the hospital, because of the IV fluids and steroids.” She liked the colorful sock designs and they made her smile during a difficult experience, her mom said. “She gets really upset talking about what she went through, but she had a great time donating the socks.”
Erin’s story is one of resilience. She spent more than two years in the hospital battling her leukemia. Chemotherapy treatments were exceptionally difficult and she was often nauseous and bedridden during treatment. In June, on what was supposed to be Erin’s last day of chemotherapy, she had an adverse reaction to her medicine and had to be monitored for liver failure. Two months later, Erin’s treatment ended.
Erin’s struggle with pediatric cancer led her and her family to partner with Resilience Gives, founded by Jewish cancer patient Jake Teitelbaum, who was frustrated with what he believed were poorly made, drab hospital socks. The company works with children who are battling cancer to design fun, non-slip socks inspired by their stories of resilience. For every pair of socks sold, a pair is donated to a child in the hospital.
For more information, www.resilience.gives.