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welcome from the bunnells

Dear Light Collective Parents and Caregivers,


We are so excited you have joined this community!  We hope it will be a blessing for you in this challenging season.  We are honored to serve as facilitators for the Parent and Caregiver Connection time on Zoom, and we are excited to get to know you. Let us introduce ourselves…


We are a cancer family. Doug is a cancer survivor from when he was a child (retinoblastoma). Laurie has lost both of her parents to cancer. Zoe, our wonderful daughter who happens to be a Light Collective volunteer, has walked the path of watching her older brother endure all that accompanies a cancer diagnosis. Our son Zachary was born with cancer (Retinoblastoma, same as dad) and experienced a number of surgeries, procedures, and radiation before he was 6 months old. He lived a rich 9 years before he was diagnosed with a secondary cancer (osteosarcoma) that left him blind. After a year of chemo he died at home on Christmas Eve, 2004.


We share this story right up front to be completely honest and transparent. We realize that ours is a story that no parent wants to acknowledge as a reality. For the last 15 years, we have walked alongside hundreds of families on the cancer journey as volunteers with Side-by-Side, and now with The Light Collective. All these years of sharing stories continues to help us find light and life in the tension between grief and hope, suffering and joy. We currently live in Bellingham, where Doug is the lead pastor at First Presbyterian Church, and Laurie is a preschool educator. We enjoy eating, reading, kayaking, learning new things, and walking our large dog.


We hope you will join us for the Parent and Caregiver Connection on Zoom. It is our belief that the best people to walk with families experiencing a cancer diagnosis, are other families who have a child with cancer. This unbearable journey can be made more bearable with support from others who can relate. The Light Collective is a community of families who understand the journey better than anyone else. We want to create space for genuine connection, support, and sharing in the midst of deep isolation, grief, and loss. You are welcome to join us every month, whatever space you are in, and whatever your capacity might be. You can come and share your story, respond to stories that resonate with you, or come and simply listen—there is never pressure to speak. We hope we can make a brighter way, together.


Here are our basic group “ground rules” that we will follow during our monthly gatherings: 

  • Confidentiality: What is shared here, stays here.

  • Compassion, not consultation: Focus on listening and sharing empathy rather than giving advice.

  • Comparison: No one’s suffering is “better” or “worse” than another’s.  We make space for all of our stories to be unique.

  • Crying: It’s allowed here!  We welcome laughter and tears, cursing and celebrating.


We look forward to making a brighter way with you, together.


Doug and Laurie Bunnell

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