Sitting on a Westminster football field's sidelines, a group of three women sometimes use their sons' practices to tie knots in thick yellow string to form a paracord bracelet. The effort is spearheaded by Kenyatta Brooks' friend Dawn Randazzo, and the mothers are from her son's football team. They only use yellow string, the color of sarcoma awareness.
The bracelets are being sold for $7 in addition to beaded bracelets Randazzo, her children and others are making that go for $15 and both can be found at Pure Image Hair and Nail Studio in Westminster. The money is going to help offset the sky-high cost of Sarah's medical bills.
In addition, a PNC bank account has been created and a fund under the Community Foundation of Carroll County called Sarah's Kisses has been set up for the Brooks family.
That's because the medical bills total thousands and thousands of dollars - a total amount Kenyatta Brooks can't yet peg down and doesn't like to think about.
The cost of cancer is more than surgery and chemotherapy treatments, as parking gas mileage, and hospital food and drink quickly rack up.
"And that's what's worrying me," said Randazzo, who has known Brooks for about eight years. "And if it's worrying me, it's got to be worrying them. So hopefully, I can take some of that worry and resolve some of those issues so they can concentrate on Sarah."
Randazzo, of Westminster, previously took care of cancer patients at Carroll Hospital Center's oncology unit. She and Kenyatta have grown close, and Randazzo is organizing a fundraiser at The Greene Turtle in Westminster from 11 a.m. to midnight on Nov. 12 to consist of raffles, an auction, a DJ and more. The eatery will donate 10 percent of the day's sales to the PNC bank account and Sarah's Kisses.
Every day - multiple times a day - Brooks and Randazzo chat on the phone. They discuss Sarah, the fundraiser, cancer and how to help other families living a similar story.
Because when a child is diagnosed with cancer, it's much different than when an adult is, said Dr. Teresa York, the University of Maryland Children's Hospital interim division head of pediatric oncology and hematology.
"There's this whole caveat to pediatrics where they really have to rely on parents, and it interrupts their life," she said. "They have to come to the doctors several times a week, sometimes several times a month. Sometimes, they get admitted in the middle of the night."
The Brooks are familiar with those unexpected visits to Johns Hopkins, which are largely attributed to chemotherapy's effects on Sarah's small body. There are the platelet, blood and antibody transfusions she sometimes needs. There was the time she was severely close to liver failure and spent the week inside the hospital.
Some days, Sarah's a bundle of energy - smiling and blowing kisses. But other times, she's fatigued and nauseated. If Kenyatta or Joe Brooks aren't making the two-hour round trip to Johns Hopkins, one of them is typically at home caring for their daughter.
The support within their network of friends and family has been overwhelming. They'll oftentimes lend a hand, and Kenyatta Brooks lets them, which her independent nature wouldn't have allowed pre-diagnosis.
"I'm telling you, when you have a sick child, and they're looking at you, and they need you," Brooks said, "you have no choice but to ask. You're forced to humility; you're forced to humble yourself. You are forced for the love of your kid."
Because somehow, the parents of children with cancer still need to have a steady flow of income in order to pay the price tag of mounting medical bills, York said.
When this is all over, when Sarah is in remission, Brooks and Randazzo hope to start a local sarcoma foundation to help other families and raise awareness of the disease. They aim to start a sibling support group - a place for those witnessing their brother or sister battle cancer can go to talk. The children might have questions they don't want to ask in fear of upsetting their parents.
"What happens if it doesn't work? What happens if they get sick? What is going to happen?" .Randazzo said. "Sometimes children might not feel like they can open up and ask their questions."
Sarah's diagnosis has been hard on her two brothers, Brooks said. They need to be more cautious when they play with her, and they're anxious about her health. They're getting support in school and at Johns Hopkins to help them deal with their sister's disease.
"I hate cancer," they often say.
But the family is coping in their own way. After Sarah's failing liver had recovered, Joe Brooks took a break. Kenyatta Brooks will sometimes ask a friend for a helping hand.
"I've had my moments where I feel stuck, and I can't move forward and get things done," she said. "It's a lot mentally to process - it's a whole lot for one person. I stay in prayer, I have a great support group, my church family - they're great people. It's really hard to say, just do what you gotta do. I always say, you just roll with the punches. You better bob and weave and just stay out of the way."