"And then Friends of Karen appeared"
As we celebrate completion of our last cycle of high-dose chemotherapy, I would like to pause and say thank you for the support we have received from Friends of Karen. As I look back on the last 15 months of our lives, I cannot believe how far we have come, and I am so grateful for the support of this amazing organization!
My life-changing moment happened in the emergency rooom on Friday night of the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. After serveral hours of waiting, my pediatrician called. I'll never forget her words and her ominous tone: "The news I have for you is not good." I didn't wait to hear what was coming next. I dropped the phone, picked up Zachary and started running. I didn't know where I was going, but I knew I wasn't going to let anyone take my son away.
After they calmed me down they explained that Zach needed to go for more tests. Five days later we had a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and headed to a NYC hospital for treatment. Eight days into treatment we were dealt another blow. Zach's leukemia had a mutation that can make it resistant to chemotherapy. His leukemia was now high risk and the chemotherapy was intensified. We stayed at the hospital for four long weeks, separated from Zach's twin brother, Teddy.
When we finally got home, I had a whole new set of challenges. I had to figure out how I would take care of my children, and I had to think about my finances. I was terrified of the future. I did not know how I was going to manage. Would I lose my job? Would I lose our house? How would I pay the bills? I remember at one point thinking cancer just might take everything from us.
And then Friends of Karen appeared.
I'll never forget the day Friends of Karen social worker, Beth, showed up at my door. She had so much knowledge of what families go through. She explained how Friends of Karen could help. It was such a relief to know that we would receive help with the transportation expenses between our home in Connecticut and the hospital in NYC and, when my time off from work ran out, financial help would be available to assist with household bills. From that moment, I knew we would be OK.
Friends of Karen has been next to us every step of the way. Their financial support has allowed me to focus on taking care of my children rather than stressing about money. They helped us get through the holiday season with a Thanksgiving care package and wish lists for both my children at Christmas. Their Sibling Support Specialist gave me information to help with Teddy. Beth has provided invaluable emotional support throughout the entire journey.
We are so grateful to the kind-hearted people we have never met who have helped us survive childhood cancer. Thank you, we will be forever grateful to you.
Note: Zachary is in the maintenance treatment phase and doing well.