#MissionMonday: Ella C.

 In Family Story, Mission Monday

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Ella had just started kindergarten when she was diagnosed with Leukemia (ALL) in 2014. She experienced numerous complications during her first year of treatment. She remained inpatient at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s Hospital (DFCI/CHB) for the first three months following her diagnosis. Chronic fevers, infections, weight loss and neurological incidents were common throughout her first two rounds of chemotherapy. Her mother Larissa is the only caretaker for her two children (Ella who is now six years old and Luke who is eight years old), and Ella’s long-term hospitalization has been extremely disruptive to the entire family.

Before Ella’s cancer diagnosis, Larissa worked full-time as a District Attorney in New Hampshire. Because Ella experienced so many long-term side effects from her cancer treatment, Larissa was unable to continue working. In addition to traveling to and from Boston to be with Ella during her treatment, Larissa, a single-parent, also had to take care of Luke. She has been on an unpaid leave of absence from her job since Ella’s diagnosis, causing a dramatic reduction in her household income.

Shortly after Ella was diagnosed, Larissa spoke with the Family Resource Specialist at Dana-Farber about her financial situation. In addition to her loss of income, Larissa was overwhelmed with the expenses associated with Ella’s cancer. Gas, parking, co-payments, food, lodging in Boston and childcare for Luke quickly drained all of her savings. Larissa was unsure of how she could possibly afford to maintain her home in New Hampshire, care for her son, and ensure that Ella continued to receive the best cancer care and treatment.

Ella required an unexpected hospitalization in March due to a significant infection. The out of pocket costs associated with this in-patient stay proved to be the financial tipping point for the family. At the end of the month, Larissa realized that she had no money left to pay her mortgage. She had been late making several payments already this year and was terrified that her children’s housing was now in jeopardy. Larissa met with her Family Resource Specialist at Dana-Farber to ask for financial assistance to save her home.

Dana-Farber completed a Family Reach application for one month’s mortgage payment for the family’s home in New Hampshire. Family Reach quickly approved the grant for one month of mortgage costs and mailed a check to the family’s bank the same week. This payment immediately relieved Larissa’s stress about her finances. She was now able to focus on getting Ella well so they could return home to New Hampshire.

Family Reach provided a grant of $1,302.39 for payment of one month of the family’s mortgage. By covering this expense, Family Reach made it possible for Ella’s mother to focus on getting her child healthy and back home.

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