Lauren Hearne’s brother Thomas was just 8 when he died of brain cancer on March 19, 2009. Six months after his death, Lauren, a junior at La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks, launched a Facebook page that provides information about all childhood cancers. “My brother’s death helped me realize that there are great causes in the world that need our attention,” she says. “I know I will see him when I die. But while I live, I want to bring attention to childhood cancer.” Thomas was diagnosed with cancer in July 2008. After eight months of treatment that included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, Thomas passed away on March 19, 2009. His entire journey was spent at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles — except his last week. His parents took him home, so, in death, he could be surrounded by the love of his family as he was in life. Those eight months of hospitalization affected the entire family. While Thomas was being treated at Children’s Hospital, his mother Tish lived at the Ronald McDonald house; Lauren, and her brother Paul, then 13, lived with her classmate Katherine Wikholm and her family; and her father Robert lived at the unfinished family residence in Camarillo, trying to salvage a major remodel a contractor had abandoned. According to Lauren, the support of her parish, Blessed Junípero Serra in Camarillo, and her friends at La Reina helped the family make it through those months. Padre Serra parishioners participated in the “Run, Hop, Walk” fundraiser for Thomas and volunteered to help with the remodel. Her friends helped by giving her emotional support. “My friends at La Reina were amazing,” she said. “They sent me sweet messages all the time. They were always on the Caring Bridge website my mother kept, so they knew what was happening to Thomas.” Prayer and her faith were a constant presence in her life, too. Months after Thomas’ death, Lauren began to reflect, not just on the cancer that affected her family so deeply, but on all childhood cancer. That thinking led her to start a Facebook page, called “Sporting Love and Hope.” The page, which is public, is a way to keep friends and family connected to the research about all childhood cancers, and to provide links to foundations and websites like Caring Bridge that are dedicated to communicating information about children with cancer. “I didn’t just want to focus on Thomas’ cancer,” Lauren says. “All kids suffer when they have cancer. All kids need the same amount of awareness. Only three percent of cancer funding goes to research children’s cancer, yet cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children.”Her page, which started with 300 friends, now has almost 1,600 people logging on to it. Mother Tish helps Lauren with the upkeep of the page, by finding links that give readers information about recent research. Lauren’s page also highlights events sponsored by organizations like the Pablove Foundation and Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which are dedicated to raising money to fight childhood cancer. Lauren’s interest in Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation led to her three-month internship last summer. Lauren is passionate about focusing attention on childhood cancer. “When a child has cancer,” she observes, “parents are with their children 24/7. They can’t go out and raise awareness. Only after death are parents able to bring attention to the cancer.” Lauren is not concerned about receiving recognition — or with questioning why her brother was taken from her. “I know I will see him again,” she says. “I’ll find out when I die what it all means.” For the present, though, Lauren Hearne makes every day mean something for families who have a child suffering from cancer. {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0916/sbhearne/{/gallery}