‘We try to be a bright light’: Organization helps spread hope for child cancer patients

Teens wear "Auburn's Army" wristbands in support of Auburn Banks
Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 3:54 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2022 at 7:01 PM EDT
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NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - September, which is just around the corner, is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Organizations in Eastern Carolina are getting a head start on going gold for the cause.

Gold is the color of support for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Riley’s Army is working hard to spread awareness. The Greenville cancer outreach organization focuses on connecting with families dealing with situations they could have never imagined.

“Personally, it’s easier to go through something with a positive outlook than a negative,” Auburn Banks says.

Banks has been in therapy for six months after being diagnosed with brain cancer. The New Bern teen and her mom say the road to recovery has not been easy.

“We started her radiation treatment in January, and five days a week for six weeks, we drove to Chapel Hill,” Amanda Banks, Auburn Banks’ mother says. “You just didn’t have time to think.”

Auburn Banks says the biopsy made her weaker and caused her to miss almost half of her freshman year of school.

Amanda Banks explained that she and her husband had to take time off from work for their daughter’s treatment.

Navigating challenges like that is why Riley’s Army exists.

“Almost always when a child is diagnosed with cancer, one of the parents has to stop working in order to be available for treatments,” Executive Director Lynn Pischke says. “Treatments can last years. If you imagine your household income being cut in half for two years, what are you gonna do?”

From gas cards to rent, Riley’s Army has helped provide resources to more than 400 families like the Banks’ over the last 14 years.

Pischke says that seeing the fight from patients shows why raising awareness for others is so important.

“We really try to be a bright light for these families in their darkest time,” Pischke says.

Those bright lights come in the form of gold bows that can be bought to help continue the Riley’s Army mission.

“When I saw Riley’s Army does the Gold Bow Campaign and they were looking for neighborhood captains, I said ‘well how about a county captain? Let’s move it to Craven County and help raise awareness for childhood cancer,” Amanda Banks says.

Auburn Banks says she will continue taking an at-home form of chemotherapy and says her doctors have seen progress. Her tumor has been stable for several weeks now.

Riley’s Army says you can buy its gold bows for $10 and be a part of the Gold Bow Campaign for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

The outreach organization says it is also selling tickets for its first Glow for Gold Gala, a way to say thank you for donations and sponsors. Tickets can be bought here.

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