Since the beginning of high school, Cancer Commons supporter Sheri Sobrato Brisson has been working with families facing pediatric illness. “As soon as I was 16, I started volunteering in hospitals with kids with cancer, not knowing that I would grow up one day to be one of those patients myself,” she says.
At the age of 24, Sheri faced her own diagnosis: a brain tumor. Now a long-term survivor—Sheri celebrates 30 years of survivorship on May 7—she continues to dedicate her time, energy, and resources to helping children with serious diseases and their families.
Sheri’s primary focus is on emotional health and wellbeing. In 2014, after years of working with families and learning from them, Sheri published a book called Digging Deep, with coauthor Rose Offner. Aimed at kids aged 10–16, the book helps guide readers through the process of emotional healing “in a fun, creative, non-threatening way.”
Digging Deep addresses problems Sheri sees in many families facing pediatric illness: “parents are so afraid to let kids experience those strong emotions that come with having a medical challenge,” she says, “and kids try to help their parents by not expressing their feelings.” Digging Deep encourages kids to creatively express their thoughts and feelings on very challenging topics.
Sheri also blogs regularly on the Digging Deep website, and she is working on a new mobile gaming app with a similar goal. “The app takes kids through a similar process using writing and art,” she says, “but the art is creating street art in digital form and bringing a desolate city back to its former glory as an artistic utopia.”
In 2016, Sheri met Cancer Commons founder and fellow cancer survivor Marty Tenenbaum, and they bonded quickly over their shared history. Sheri was intrigued by Marty’s mission to help patients access better treatments based on knowledge that already exists but may not be readily accessible.
“I instantly realized the impact Cancer Commons could have,” Sheri says. “More treatments are now available than when I was treated 30 years ago, but with that there’s also a lot more confusion for both patients and physicians about what treatment to choose.”
This past January, Sheri and her husband Eric Brisson partnered with Cancer Commons to launch a new pediatric brain cancer initiative, with the goal of identifying personalized treatment options for patients. The technology-focused initiative adds a unique new facet to Sheri’s philanthropic work.
“The best chance is your first chance when you have cancer,” Sheri says. “My dream is that more children affected by this dreadful disease get the best possible treatment for their specific disease as a first course of therapy. That would be success to me.”
All of us at Cancer Commons are very grateful to Sheri and her husband for their support. We hope her story inspires you to join the Cancer Commons family and Sheri in contributing to better treatment options for all.