All of our worlds have been turned upside down in the past two weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic has reached our shores. For 17 years we have been here for families who have a child with cancer, and we are here now. Your help will make all the difference in how much we can do.
Much of this feels oddly familiar. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it comes with no warning. There is uncertainty, anxiety, and fear that come with the diagnosis and a complete loss of control. Our families are pros at what has become our “new normal." Protecting their child from invisible germs, washing hands, social distancing, sheltering in place are new terms for what they have been doing since they first heard those dreaded words, “Your child has cancer.” All this while also facing astronomically expensive treatment regimens.
Our families, many who are immune suppressed and at significant risk, are now on even higher alert and need our help now more than ever. The choices are staggering – go to treatment, the grocery store, or work and risk exposure to the virus?
- A mom who was about to go back to work after her son completed his six-month intensification phase now has to stay home because he cannot attend school. The fast-food chain she works at will not pay her as she has already exhausted her family medical leave and cannot hold the job for her when this period of containment is over.
- A per diem health care aide who cannot work because she is at risk of bringing the virus home to her immune-compromised teenage daughter.
- The family that has to travel to New York for acute care and now needs long term home care for their other children as they will be quarantined in the city.
These are just a few of the families that have called us in the past week looking for assistance with the most basic necessities: Rent, food, utilities, transportation to treatment. We are continuing to keep our phone lines open while we work remotely to address the urgent needs of our families. We are working closely with hospital social workers to triage those most in need and ensure that every family has access to critical financial assistance. Within a week of the outbreak reaching Connecticut, we had urgent calls from the social workers asking if we have additional emergency funds available at this time. While we continue to process financial aid applications, we are also mailing digital thermometers, gas and grocery cards, and care packages to siblings to help keep spirits up.
And honestly, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on us. Our fundraising events have been canceled so we need your help now more than ever. Our Financial Assistance program is there for families precisely for times like this, emergencies, to help meet basic needs. Please consider giving to us so that we can provide much-needed assistance to our families as they battle through an even harder set of circumstances than they were facing before.
On behalf of all of the families we help, thank you so much for your support.
Liz & Dawn