We See You, Caregivers: Parents and Partners Reflect on Financial Stress of Cancer

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Photo: Gina and her daughter Annalisa, who faced mouth cancer

Gina and Annalisa

The financial stress of a cancer diagnosis doesn’t just impact patients — it takes a toll on caregivers as well.

Leaving their jobs, giving up meals, draining their savings accounts. These are the realities of the parents, grandparents, children, partners, siblings, neighbors, and friends who take on the role of caregiver and make sacrifices so their loved ones can get better.

When you support Family Reach, you show up for caregivers like Graciela, Gina, Nicole, and Elle. Together, we can reach the caregiver community with financial support and help them carry the weight of a loved one’s cancer diagnosis.

“Paying for gas with less stress”

Camila and Graciela
Graciela and her daughter Camila who is facing neuroblastoma

“Our family is constantly on a budget,” shared Camila’s mom, Graciela. “We make sacrifices so that we have enough to cover our bills and can get Camila to her treatment.”

When Camila was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age six, her mom stopped working to be her full-time caregiver and the family adjusted to living on just her dad’s income.

They stopped going out to eat and planning fun trips. Camila and her sister wear hand-me-down clothes from their cousins. Using the family car is reserved for driving to Camila’s weekly blood monitoring appointments.

Graciela shared, “The support we received from Family Reach made things easier. Driving to a hospital in another city is costly so I’m grateful for the breath of relief from things like paying for gas with less stress.”

“We breathed a bit more easily”

Gina and Annalisa
Gina and her daughter Annalisa, who faced mouth cancer

When 26-year-old Annalisa was diagnosed with head and neck cancer, her mom, Gina, quickly stepped into caregiving mode. Though Annalisa was financially independent from her parents, Gina worried about how the diagnosis may set her daughter back as she watched bills pile up.

Then Annalisa was medically separated from her job and lost her health insurance in the middle of treatment.

“My husband and I were ready to take out equity in our home to help Annalisa get by and get back on her feet,” Gina shared.

That’s when Family Reach stepped in. “We breathed a bit more easily during the month when Family Reach covered Annalisa’s bills,” Gina said. “I remember being able to concentrate more on her recovery and well-being rather than being anxious about how she was going to make ends meet.”

Annalisa and Gina wedding photo
Gina and Annalisa at Annalisa's wedding

Today, Gina is proud to share that “Annalisa and her husband are in the process of saving up to buy a house within the next year — something I think she never thought possible while she was swimming in debt.”

“As a single mom, I need my credit to sustain myself and my family”

Nicole and her three children
Nicole, who is facing multiple myeloma, and her three children

Sometimes caregivers are also the ones getting treatment. For Nicole, navigating multiple myeloma also meant continuing to care for her family.

“As a parent, you want to be there for your children when they need you,” said Nicole. “I was concerned about caring for my family while still giving my attention to treatment … it’s a very stressful balance to strike.”

As treatment continued, Nicole faced impossible financial decisions, all while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for her three children.

“I’m a single mom who rents, so I need my credit to sustain myself and my family if I don’t have cash,” Nicole explained. “So I made the difficult decision to not pay my rent and instead put groceries in my house and pay my credit card bills and my car loan.”

Family Reach helped Nicole with rent, food, and utility costs so she could drive her daughter to dance rehearsals without sacrificing the gas she needed to drive herself to treatment. She kept the lights on without worrying whether she could put dinner on the table.

“The support from Family Reach also gave me the chance to be a little generous with my children, treat them to something special,” Nicole shared. “They’ve been amazing and resilient through all of this and I wanted to be able to do something nice for them.”

Focusing on healing

Casey and Elle
Elle and her husband Casey, who is facing brain cancer

Elle is an actor, singer-songwriter, and part of the husband and wife team behind Hockett Films.

When her 36-year-old husband Casey was diagnosed with brain cancer and had to stop working, Elle also put work and creative projects on hold to support him through treatment.

For Elle and so many others in her shoes, caregiving is a full-time job. She focuses her time on providing a healthy regimen for Casey, making the 13-hour roundtrip to drive to a neuro-oncologist, caring for their five-year-old son, and researching ways to help Casey recover.

When Casey’s social worker applied for support on the family’s behalf, we were able to help them pay for food and childcare costs to keep them afloat during an incredibly trying time. With a moment of financial reprieve, Elle and Casey can focus on healing.

Your support provides life-saving financial resources that help caregivers like Graciela, Gina, Nicole and Elle take care of themselves and their families — donate to the #WeSeeYou campaign today.

Mary Corcoran Headshot
Mary Corcoran
Content & Storytelling Coordinator • Family Reach Team

As Communications Coordinator, Mary creates and promotes content that spreads the word about Family Reach’s mission. Mary brings her love of storytelling to her work, and a commitment to a world where socioeconomic status doesn’t determine chances of survival.

Read more from Mary Corcoran.

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