To All of Our Supporters,
Listed below is an update of some families we have been helping since our last report in August.
The length of a sick child’s treatment plan often greatly impacts his or her family’s ability to manage the financial difficulties that come their way. Such is the case with 5 year old Nick’s family. Nick was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2018 and he’s expected to be in treatment for more than 3 years! Although both mom and dad were working full time when he was diagnosed, mom quickly used up her paid time off to be with her son during his treatment. Until both parents can get back to full time employment, the Foundation has been assisting with auto loan payments, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance bills.
Sometimes, social workers from the hospitals with whom we work contact us to help a family in an emergency situation. Such was the case with the family of 3 year old Liam who was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma of his right leg in April 2018. Mom was working as a nursing assistant to support Liam and his four older siblings on her own since the death of her husband. The relatively small death benefit for the three youngest children didn’t go far, especially when mom needed to take unpaid leave to care for her son. The social worker contacted us for our help to quickly pay a sizeable auto repair bill so that mom could make sure her son got to his treatments. The Foundation paid for the auto repair and was asked to help further, with rent and utilities, after Liam’s leg had to be amputated and the resulting PT and rehab appointments made going back to work impossible for mom, at the present.
How to determine the eligibility of a family, based on the age of the sick child, is sometimes an issue for us. Penn State Hershey considers pediatric patients to the age of 22. CHOP’s pediatric oncology program includes children to the age of 26. Often, children diagnosed after these ages, or close the age limit, don’t have access to assistance that is available to younger pediatric patients. We consider all these cases on an individual basis, looking at the age of the child and whether they were still living at home and dependents of their parents, before the illness was diagnosed. When we were contacted to assist Courtney’s family, she was a 20 year old who had recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Mom was disabled, dad was the single wage earner and the family was in crisis, financially and emotionally. The Foundation’s Board determined that assistance was warranted and paid several household bills for the family.
The Foundation’s second Liam this summer was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma in July 2018. This 2 year old child was hospitalized and began an intensive treatment plan requiring chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, a stem cell transplant and immunotherapy that will take place over a two year period. Little Liam lives with his mother, his father is not involved in his life. Mom’s family lives out of state and she needs to rely on friends in our area to help her work on a limited basis as a certified nursing assistant while her son is being treated. The need for assistance for this family was great and the Foundation was able to cover the family’s rent for six months and will reevaluate need for further help at the end of the six month period.
Two year old Ariella has bilateral retinoblastoma or cancer in both eyes. When we were contacted to help the family, she had already undergone 6 cycles of intense chemotherapy without positive results. Her treatment was intensified and continues. Mom had to stop working in order to provide care, medical decision making and transportation for Ariella’s treatment as well as care for her three other children. Dad was supporting the family until the couple split during this time and was no longer providing support. The Foundation was asked to pay a large, overdue, electric bill so mom could get on a payment plan to keep the family’s electric service.
As this report is being written, we’ve received 5 new referrals from Penn State Hershey over a two day period. The number of families needing help is growing and the time over which treatment will be given is often long and overwhelming. Your continuing generosity has made it possible for us to keep pace with this growing need. It would have been impossible to have done so without your support!
We sincerely thank you,
The Board and Volunteers of the Jeff Musser Foundation