When Mary Cullen’s father was battling lung cancer in 2005, she and her siblings did their best to help their mother and take care of the insurance paperwork and medical expenses. Up until William Gearing finally lost the battle, she did her best to put on a brave face and hide the worry, exhaustion and fear.
But her raw nerves and the emotional pain of seeing a loved one suffer did not go unrecognized by Cullen’s 13-year-old daughter, Katherine, who remembered what her family went through and now wants to help other families dealing with a medical crisis.
“It put a significant amount of stress on them that didn’t need to be there, because they were worrying about his cancer spreading,” the daughter recalls.
Today, Katherine Cullen is a 19-year-old Chapman University sophomore who has started the nonprofit organization With Will’s Help as a means of aiding families struggling through a child’s illness without the benefit of medical insurance. The name she chose for the group is a nod to her maternal grandfather, William Gearing, with whom she was especially close.