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Child’s death sparks fight for local families

By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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Robyn Raphael of Roseville is being awarded as a Community Champion for her ability to turn life’s lemons into lemonade. Molina Health Care will award Raphael with a $1,000 grant for her work as an advocate for families caring for a child diagnosed with cancer. Each year Molina Health care honors local heroes for their work within the community and volunteerism. Molina President, Lisa Rubino said Raphael was an obvious choice for turning her own personal tradgedy into an opportunity to provide an important resource for families in the community. In 1998 after losing her five-year-old son to Neuroblastoma only eight months after his diagnosis, Raphael began tirelessly working locally and in Washington to advocate childhood cancer research funding. Last year, Raphael joined more than 200 other parents to Washington to rally for funding for child oncologists. “A lot of parents I was with had also lost children to Neuroblastoma and were there after the fact without their children,” Raphael said. “I believe grief can be a real driving force for change.” The Keaton Raphael Memorial was created in the memory of Robyn’s son providing families dealing with childhood cancer with resources and support. The non-profit organization offers families financial assistance for treatments, burial expenses and provides an extensive network of resources and other organizations. “Typical treatment for these diseases is anywhere from a year to three and a half years,” Raphael said. “In this economy families are struggling to make ends meet and this was a way that I could step in and help.” The organization also helps families with childhood cancer education, preparing parents for doctor visits and ensuring that they receive enough information to understand their child’s disease. “She really embodies all that we look for in a community champion,” Rubino said. “(The nominees) are phenomenal to take on these challenges and provide the kind of support they do.” Raphael will be awarded a $1,000 grant that she has designated to benefit the Keaton Raphael Memorial. The grant will be able to provide two families with the financial and transportation assistance that is vital to cancer treatments. “I can identify with these families, I know what it’s like to be in those shoes. It’s all I can do to help get closer to finding a cure,” Raphael said. “This is my way of fighting cancer.” Raphael will be recognized with eight other honorees at the third annual Molina Healthcare of California Community Champions awards dinner on June 18.