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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A caring bridge

Web sites help families and friends stay in touch with seriously ill children.

Kelsey Jo Hoffman, 18, underwent a stem-cell transplant at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., four years ago when I was there for chaplaincy training.

She and her mother were hundreds of miles away from friends and family in Hartford, S.D. At times Kelsey couldn’t have many people visit her at the hospital because of her weakened immune system.

Kelsey Jo Hoffman
Kelsey Jo Hoffman
Some days it helped to talk on the phone. At other times she said it was difficult to find the energy to phone and repeat news about her progress to her friends, family and pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in Hartford.

One way Kelsey and her mother connected to loved ones was to create a Web site at Caring Bridge. Each day they could write updates and journal entries. Loved ones also could leave messages for them. At the bottom of the Web page was a tally of the number of people who had read it.

For all of the thousands of times their Web site was read, Kelsey and her mom said they felt like they received thousands of hugs and prayers.

Months after Kelsey’s stem-cell transplant, she returned to her home church and shared from the pulpit about her journey with cancer and the importance of the support she received from the congregation.

Just as Scripture helps us to enter into the story of God’s love for us, this Web page helped Kelsey and her mother remain connected to their faith community.


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