Friend for Life: The Role of the Patient and Family Services Program Coordinator
There are some jobs that can be left behind at the day’s end. For Patient and Family Services Program Coordinator, Jessica Cook, the scope of her work leaves lasting imprints on the heart that will stay with her forever. She feels honored to partner with families going through childhood cancer, celebrating their victories and mourning losses.
Jessica began her career with The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) over 17 years ago. Each year she works to connect parents with resources to get their child to lifesaving treatments. Her efforts are not often forgotten and this year, Jessica’s proudest moment was hearing from someone she helped over a decade ago.
“I recently got a call from a woman, who, as a child, we helped get to treatment almost 15 years ago. I got to know her and her family when she was going through treatment, and also through a fundraiser they did for us for a few years. She called because she was having problems with late effects from the treatment she received as a child and wanted to talk about what was going on. It meant so much to me that even after all of these years, I was still someone they counted on for guidance, unconditional care and support.”
Without the NCCS, families would miss appointments because of the costs associated with travel, and be unable to obtain the treatment needed for their child to survive, no matter if found across town or across the country. And there’s nothing more important. Jessica says the NCCS serves approximately 180 families a month. Her work doesn’t stop within the scope of active cancer treatment.
“I absolutely have continued contact with families once their child is ‘cancer free’. Even after treatment, they often have yearly checkups and we still support those travel expenses. When a family no longer needs us financially, it is not unusual for me to get calls for updates on how their child is doing, share milestones, accomplishments and even worries.”
The NCCS is well-known for a holistic approach, first focusing on getting a child to the best cancer treatment needed in the moment, then continuing support throughout survivorship with their Beyond the Cure survivorship program which prepares survivors for life after cancer.
While the families assisted are forever grateful for the ally found in Jessica, the relationships forged have been profound for her as well.
“It is one of my greatest joys to know I have been a part of unburdening some of the emotional and financial challenges that my families face.”