Fighting Cancer Like a Bear

In life, there are things that are certain and within your control—like what time you wake up in the morning, what you eat for dinner, or what gas station you stop at on the way home. It’s the things that are outside of your control that cause stress—like rain on your wedding day,your favorite team winning or losing the game, and probably the number one stressor —your health.

For parents, that stress becomes even greater when considering the health of a child. For Nick and Heather Baker, founders of The Bear Fund, the circumstance they found themselves in with their youngest child was deeply distressing. However, they turned it into a source of inspiration and hope for families experiencing the same situation.

the bear fund: the bakers take action

In the fall of 2019, Nick and Heather Baker’s youngest child Barrett (“Bear”) was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer. Bear endured over 2 years of chemotherapy and 8 surgeries, including a liver transplant, to help him reach remission. Bear’s strength and resiliency is nothing short of remarkable. During Bear’s battle, the Baker’s saw a glaring need for children and families who are fighting serious illness and don’t have the monetary or advocate help required to navigate the healthcare system. It didn’t sit right with them—no parent should be forced to make a decision between top medical care and an electric bill. Nick and Heather decided to do something about it. In 2021, they joined forces with the Cancer Support community to establish The Bear Fund to provide navigation resource services and financial assistance to families so their child can Fight Cancer Like A Bear.

Making an impact

According to the American Cancer Society, about 9,620 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2024. One in four of those families will lose more than 40% of their annual household income because of work disruption due to their child’s treatment. At a time when a parent should be able to focus on their child, they are forced to worry about transportation costs, medical costs, utilities, and more. That’s where The Bear Fund steps in. Not only do they provide financial support, The Bear Fund provides a nationwide, professionally staffed pediatric navigation program. The pediatric navigator is a licensed professional who provides personalized support and information to make a family’s cancer journey easier, ensuring their child receives the best care. Notably, The Bear Fund has funds to families within 48 hours of their request approval. Being able to get the money to the families quickly, when they need it most, sets The Bear Fund apart and eliminates the red tape these families face in navigating the medical system. 

Embracing Humanity and Sharing Passions

MJ Employee Benefits Consultant, Pat Moore, nominated The Bear Fund as our March Chairty of the Month. “MJ and The Bear Fund exist to inspire and fulfill the wellbeing of those in their communities. We share a similar Purpose, and I am grateful to work for an organization that supports the causes that we are passionate about,” says Moore. One of the cornerstones of the MJ Foundation is embracing humanity, where we provide support for both situational and endemic issues that challenge the communities we serve—from disaster relief to children’s healthcare and the overall wellbeing of families. We are proud to highlight The Bear Fund who shares the same values and is working to create the change we hope to see in our communities.