#TechTuesday: CaringBridge Helps Families Connect with Network of Support

2012-09-11 11:50:02 by Public Relations staff, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

When Shawna Roach’s daughter, Mackenzie, was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after her eighth birthday, Shawna quickly discovered the benefits of using a CaringBridge website to keep friends and family updated about Mackenzie’s condition.

Besides a large extended family that’s scattered around the country, Shawna has many friends at Akron Children’s, where she works as a physician recruitment coordinator.

Right after Mackenzie’s diagnosis, Shawna went to the CaringBridge site to learn more, thinking she’d tackle building the site later.

“When I saw how easy it is to do, I set it up right away. Mackenzie helped by selecting a ballet-themed template and choosing the photos,” said Shawna.

CaringBridge offers free, personal and protected sites to patient families so they can post health updates during any type of health event. The sites also allow friends and family to leave supportive messages.

Mackenzie has come a long way since the tumor was removed last September. Although she is still undergoing rehabilitation to regain skills that were lost, she just started the third grade. Shawna’s posts are less frequent now, but the site has been a good way to document the care her daughter received.

Even now, Mackenzie enjoys looking back at the posts and the words of encouragement, love and support she continues to receive. She’s amazed at the number of people who have followed her.

Karen Froats also understands how powerful it can be to know that others are praying for you and offering their support – even if they are total strangers.

She first found out about CaringBridge when her 19-year-old son Tyler was diagnosed with leukemia for the third time at age 17. Karen is originally from San Diego and her husband, Regis, is from Pittsburgh, but a new job brought them to Medina, Ohio.

In addition to the distance that separates their families, Karen is one of eight kids and Regis is one of seven, so CaringBridge has been a wonderful way to keep everyone informed.

It’s also allowed them to connect with a large community of support they never knew existed, including other families in the Highland Local School District.

“We had just moved to Medina and didn’t know a lot of people yet, but the support we received from them was tremendous,” said Karen. “People we hadn’t met, but who were following Tyler on CaringBridge would stop by with meals.”

Since then, the Froats have connected with other families who are going through similar situations and have offered their encouragement.

“It’s our way of giving back for the love and support we were so fortunate to receive,” said Karen.

To create a free, password-protected CaringBridge website or to find out more, visit caringbridge.org.

To visit Mackenzie’s site go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/mackenzieroach/guestbook.

To visit Tyler’s site, go to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/tylerfroats.

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