Never giving up

Name: Patrick
Age at diagnosis: 3 years
Diagnosis: Supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumor
How Family Reach helped: Grant to assist with one month’s mortgage payment

When Patrick was 3 years old, his parents, Magdalenka and Martin, began to notice a pattern of frequent headaches and sensed that something was wrong. After a local hospital visit and a second opinion at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, they learned that Patrick had a rare malignant brain tumor known as a supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumor. The family was in complete shock. They questioned their faith—wondering, why Patrick? Magdalenka remembers that she wanted to “scream at the world, but needed to find the strength to move forward.” Shortly after his diagnosis, Patrick had surgery and began several cycles of chemotherapy, which involved spending countless months in and out of the hospital. The family was devastated when a follow-up MRI revealed more spots on Patrick’s brain, creating a need for a second round of surgery and radiation therapy.

Martin, who is a full-time firefighter, has been unable to work overtime due to Patrick’s illness. Historically, the family relied on this extra income to meet their bills. Magdalenka and Martin also incurred several unexpected expenses, including car and home repairs. When Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast last fall, the family was displaced for 5 weeks and depleted their savings in order to repair water and mold damage to their basement and first floor. They were grateful when their social worker at Memorial Sloan-Kettering connected them with Family Reach social worker, Jennifer Lorencovitz, to apply for a grant. After Magdalenka learned that the grant application was approved, she was thrilled. She said, “It felt good to know that people care about you and want nothing in return—like the way your mom cares about you.” The grant from Family Reach helped pay for one month’s mortgage and offset the expense of buying insulation for their basement to keep the house warm enough for Patrick.

Patrick is now 4 years old and enjoys riding his bike, playing with his sister’s stuffed animals, and spending time with his father on his company’s fire truck. Thankfully, the family received good news after the latest round of treatment, when an MRI revealed no new cancer. A third round of radiation will begin soon. Magdalenka reports that she is happy and thankful for her 2 beautiful children. In fact, because she wants to give her children a better life, she learned English and is studying finance. Despite the challenges of caring for a child with cancer, she’s “learned to never give up…If I am strong and keep his dreams in mind, everything will be OK.”

Last update: July 31, 2014