Thursday marks the 58th Annual Children’s Hospital Free Care Friends Benefit Show which helps to ensure that no child in need will go without medical care. Last year’s event raised more than $1.5 million for the Free Care Fund.

Mary Robb Jackson talked with one family who says having Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville is a blessing.


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Alana Isenberg was an active 4-year-old who loved running after a soccer ball; but that changed in October when her legs started hurting her.

“She kept crying – and she’s never complained about pain like that,” her mother Bree Isenberg explained, “so I thought it might have been like a growth spurt – something like that.”

Bree took her daughter in for a checkup and the news they got changed their lives: Leukemia. “You feel helpless as parents too because there’s nothing you can do to make it better,” dad Dan Isenberg added.

What really hit the Isenbergs were the unspoken things they felt here at Children’s Hospital.

“All the other kids have such high spirits; but their parents — you look in their eyes and you can tell they’re broken. They’re beside theirself their child is so sick,” Bree Isenberg said.

Lanie’s treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which attacks the blood and bone marrow, may take two or three years.

“We’ve done great things over the past number of years – and the outcome for the children is generally very good,” Dr. Meredith Chuk, a pediatric oncologist, explained.

The family drives from Nanty Glo near Johnstown — an-hour-and-a-half each way for their daughter’s chemotherapy — while her 3-month-old sister stays with relatives.

But Bree says having Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville is a blessing. “If it wasn’t for Children’s we’d be going down to Tennessee to St. Jude’s and that would mean leaving all of our friends and family.”

Lanie has been an in-patient to monitor a fever she developed – but she just got a prescription that she can’t wait to fill… “I go home tomorrow!”

Tune in to the Free Care Friends Telethon this Thursday at 7 p.m. on KDKA-TV


Watch & Listen LIVE