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A Brooklyn woman lost her young daughter to cancer. Now, she's helping other moms weather the storm.

Brooklyn mom who lost daughter to cancer becomes advocate for other moms
Brooklyn mom who lost daughter to cancer becomes advocate for other moms 02:44

NEW YORK -- A Brooklyn woman who lost her daughter to cancer is on a mission to support other mom's weathering the same storm. 

This month marks seven years since Jalissa Nadine Carson died. Every few days, her mother visits a bench dedicated to her memory in Marine Park, Brooklyn. 

"This is a special bench because this is exactly where she sat," said Leonette Belfield-Carson, whose daughter was 24 when she died. 

The bench has a small plaque that reads, "In memory of our Jalissa Nadine Carson. 'I don't mind waiting.'"

"When Jalissa got diagnosed, I was like to myself, like, oh, my God. Inside, I was screaming, but I couldn't scream," said Belfield-Carson. 

Daughter was best friends with CBS New York reporter

Jalissa wasn't just a beloved daughter. She was best friends with CBS New York's Hannah Kliger. They met as freshmen in high school and spoke often about Jalissa's cancer journey, treatments and how she drew strength from the experience.

Doctors told Jalissa the cancer had returned the summer after they graduated. 

"I'm just doing the Lord's work, he put me here to have cancer ... I'm just having cancer with dignity," she told Kliger in an interview from 2012.

Jalissa made many friends during her years of treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 

"Even when she was ill, she always thought about other people," said Belfield-Carson.

One of those people, Dr. Tanya Trippett, a pediatric oncologist, founded an organization called Wish4Life, a nonprofit that recently broke ground on a new children's hospital in Ghana that is set to open in 2026.

An advocate for other moms 

Trippett recruited Belfield-Carson and another mom to serve as ambassadors for her program, an international campaign called "Mothers 4 Mothers."

"What we would like to do is leverage that strength by engaging mothers that have already gone through the experience to help other mothers," said Trippett.

Sunday, Belfield-Carson will celebrate another Mother's Day as a survivor of tragedy. This year, she's advocating for other mothers who are weathering life's scariest storms. 

"It was 12 years and I didn't think it was going to end. But when it ended and I came out a different person, a better person ... a stronger person," she said.

It's a way to continue her own mission to preserve her daughter's legacy. 

Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.

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