GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — More than 500,000 Texans currently live with cancer. And this year, more than 1,800 people in Williamson County will learn they have cancer.
Chris Almendarez learned his wife Jana had brain cancer in 2015, and she passed away almost a year later, in May 2016.
“I miss my wife every single day of my life,” said Almendarez, president of the Round Rock Express.
After Jana’s diagnosis, the challenge was how to help their youngest son cope. “Teenage boys aren’t very expressive,” explains Almendarez.
Sharing feelings is encouraged at Wonders & Worries, a non-profit that provides support for kids dealing with a parent’s illness. “They may not understand the illness or the treatment and side effects. They can perceive that it’s their fault,” said Meredith Cooper, the organization’s executive director and co-founder.
Child life specialists meet with kids and teens to give them an outlet. “It sucks knowing that your mom could die,” said Riley Daly.
Riley and Regan’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago, a battle she still fights. “Having somebody to talk to, somebody to be there for you, because we don’t have anybody in our grade or area that really understands it,” explains Regan.
“Be able to have them not internalize everything, and to have that person outside of me so there’s no fear of upsetting me about certain things,” said Riley and Regan’s mother Cindy Daly.
All the information kids discuss with staff is confidential. They’ll go through six sessions, learning how to handle something much bigger than them. “You can be mad at the situation, you can be sad at the situation, you know every day’s different, and just to kind of know how to deal with that,” said Almendarez.
Wonders & Worries now has four locations, the other three are in Austin. Services are free and offered in English and Spanish.
Since Wonders & Worries started in 2001, they’ve served more than 6,000 people, helping about 250 people each year. One out of every four children they help is from Williamson County.