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What We Do

The Badger Childhood Cancer Network (BCCN) serves families from 30+ counties whose child has been diagnosed with cancer or a life threatening blood disorder. The patients and families that we serve are treated at the American Family Children’s Hospital, a UW-Hospital and Clinics affiliate. We offer our services to the roughly 100 newly diagnosed children each year, those on ongoing treatment and those who have relapsed, some 300 or more at any given time. Some of BCCN’s most critical services are described below.

Financial Assistance

In our area, the average family of a child with cancer or a life threatening blood disorder sees a 40% drop in their income in the first year after diagnosis. Childhood cancer treatments are very aggressive, and a parent must provide extensive care for the child or teen and drive to frequent appointments for tests and treatments. Loss of income, combined with greatly increased medical and travel expenses, lead to serious financial hardship for many families.

We provide direct emergency assistance to needy families for help with transportation and basic living expenses. Working on referrals from social workers, we provide assistance with household and travel expenses that, if left unmet, might compromise the health and safety of the critically ill child. In particular, we aid families of children on acute treatment with their utility bills, phone bills, rent/mortgage, car payments, car repairs, gas and groceries. This program constitutes the greatest part of our annual budget.


Each fall, we match our patient families (with a child in treatment) in need with generous donor members of the community. Parents supply a list of ideas for each of their children, and our “Adopters” have some fun shopping! The gifts are then sorted, and a delivery with the family is arranged. If your family, classroom, community organization or workplace group would like to adopt a family at holiday time, please contact us.


We advocate for the right of children with cancer and blood disorders. We advocate for legislation at the state and local level that will increase funding for more effective and safer cures for childhood cancers and blood disorders, and for the many medical issues faced by survivors of these diseases.

Cancer Family Support Group

Social isolation is a serious concern for children with cancer and blood disorders, their parents and their siblings. BCCN supports the emotional needs of our families and hosts a monthly support group.

Meets every 3rd Sunday- from September through May

  • 4 PM – Vitense Golfland – 5501 Schroeder Rd, Madison, WI 53711
  • Kids (patients, survivors and their siblings) do outdoor activities like mini golf and indoor activities in the arcade. Kids can also do crafts and other fun activities with our UW Occupational Therapy graduate student volunteers.
  • Adults have time to talk, learn and share.
  • Pizza and salad will be served at 5:30 p.m.
  • This event is free for families thanks to BCCN donors.
  • Families don’t need to RSVP.
  • If you have questions about support groups please contact us.

Hero Bead Program

BCCN began and now supports the popular Hero Bead program for patients treated at American Family Children’s Hospital. Hero Beads let kids and teens with cancer or blood disorders commemorate their personal treatment journey in the form of a string of beads,a simple, visible record of their experience.

The program is introduced to patients and families, and beads are provided by the AFCH Patient Family Liaison. Patient’s interested in the program will receive a “starter kit” from the hospital’s Patient Family Liaison. It includes a string, diagnosis bead, AFCH bead, BCCN bead and letters to spell out their name. They also receive a Hero Bead checklist to keep track of all of the beads they have earned.. Parents/ patients keep track of the milestones and can request additional beads and updates from the Patient Family Liaison as needed.

Over time, Hero Beads provide a symbol of each patient’s personal journey, a tangible testament to strength and endurance. BCCN’s Hero Beads are our local adaptation of the trademarked Hero Bead program developed by American Childhood Cancer Organization of Maryland.

Hero Beads
Family Social Event

Family Fun Events

  • Seasonal parties (Spring Party, Summer Picnic, Fall Party and Holiday Party)
  • June Kids’ Fishing Day
  • Superhero Run/Walk
  • Other fun opportunities as they come up

The entire family is welcome to attend. There are plenty of activities for patients, siblings and parents, so everyone can enjoy events as a family and network with others who may be on the same journey.

New Diagnosis Bags

After an initial diagnosis and assessment, the patient/family admitted to the American Family Children’s Family receives a New Diagnosis Bag from BCCN. A large duffel bag includes:

  • Parent informational folder
  • Age-appropriate resources for patient
  • Cuddly comfort item
  • Toys, games, craft materials and other
    quiet-time activities
  • Parent resources
  • Toiletry Kit
  • Blanket
  • Gas card
Diagnosis Bag


Use your superpowers for good and help kids and teens just like these in their battle against childhood cancer and life threatening blood disorders.

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