Raising a child with cancer helped McNall-Knapp better understand what her patients and their families go through.
She began to realize how unpredictable life is when you have a child with cancer. A fever can quickly mean canceling all of your plans and heading to the emergency room.
You learn never to write anything on your calendar in pen.
“I remember the first time he woke up throwing up, and my first thought wasn't, ‘Oh he has the stomach flu,'” she said. “It was, ‘Oh, it's gone to his brain, and it's metastasized his brain, and he's throwing up because of that.'”
McNall-Knapp said she encourages people to look into becoming foster parents for children with medical needs.
“You don't have to be a doctor to do this,” she said. “You can take care of these kids and really make a huge difference in someone's life.”
More than 10,000 children are in the DHS foster care system, a number that changes daily. DHS is working to recruit about 2,000 new foster families by June, 500 more than the agency recruited last year. So far, the agency has recruited 640 new foster families.
Amy White, who oversees foster families and adoptions at DHS, said families who take in children facing medical issues serve an important role.
“When a child is undergoing very difficult medical circumstances and is in need of a foster home, we are so grateful for this special kind of family who is willing to provide the child with love and care and, in this case, provide a child with a permanent home,” said White, deputy director of the Bridge Resource program.