PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Portland mother is paying it forward by becoming a mentor for seriously ill children through the JoyRX Mentorship Program.

In 2013, Lori’s daughter Mia was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, a rare and sometimes fatal blood disorder.

“The experience took a real emotional, mental and physical toll on me as I struggled to take care of her, and I had three other kids that needed attention and no family in the area. And I would take her alone to the hospital for treatments where we would spend long days alone,” Lori explained.

After Mia’s first chemo treatment, they were approached by JoyRX, “the mission delivery” of the Children’s Cancer Association, according to the organization’s website, and asked if her daughter wanted a chemo mentor.

“I was a little reluctant at first, but when you’re in that situation, you find that you have to depend on the kindness of others to help you through,” Lori said.

“For us, it was just such a blessing to have someone who came and distracted and entertained her. Someone who cared about her and made her laugh and paid attention to her and treated her like she was the most special person in the world, which took some pressure off of me and gave me a chance to just breathe,” Lori explained.

“Even though everybody in the hospital was great and amazing, they have so many other families that they have to tend to,” Lori said, adding that with the mentor program “one person comes and it’s just for your child and it just brings them some joy and some peace and some happiness.”

She and her family had such a good experience with the program, she decided to become a mentor herself.

“I immediately knew that I wanted to make some sense out of our experience. It had to have meaning to me. And so, the first thing I thought when CCA knocked on our door was ‘when we get through this, I want to be that person. I want to be the one who knocks on the door of these vulnerable families and offer support and moments of joy,’” Lori recalled.

Along with becoming a JoyRX mentor, she’s also been a JoyRX specialist — matching mentors with families.

Lori added “it’s been so rewarding to meet these families and find somebody who’s a perfect fit and match them. And we hear so much about how much this program means to families and how much it brings them joy in their long and dark place where they’re at.”