Harper is a smiley 5-year-old girl who loves soccer, swimming and ballet. Around the time of Thanksgiving 2018, only five months after her brother Harry was born, Harper was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. About 3,000 people younger than age 20 are found to have ALL each year in the United States¹.
Her family of four quickly realized the many ways that cancer seeps into all aspects of life, especially financially. Harper is now in the midst of intense chemotherapy, meaning she needs a parent by her side 24/7. Her mom, Kim, is taking unpaid leave to be Harper’s full-time caregiver. Harper’s dad continues to work since his family relies on health insurance through his job.
The effects of Cancer-Related Financial Toxicity
“Due to financial reasons, we had to stop daycare for Harry,” says Kim. “I am able to keep him home with me full time, but when we have to go into the clinic for Harper’s treatment, the financial burden spreads to our families. My mother and mother-in-law both take days off from work to stay with Harry while I take Harper to treatment.”
Cancer affects the entire family. It disrupts life, alters relationships and puts a strain on everyone involved. The financial burden of cancer, on top of everyday struggles and unexpected hospital visits, makes overcoming a diagnosis even more challenging.
This is the reality thousands of families across the United States face and it’s known as Cancer-Related Financial Toxicity. Cancer patients are 2.65 times more likely to go bankrupt than people without cancer.
“Before cancer was a household word for us, we were a social family. We always went to an event or gathering on the weekends,” says Kim. “Harper misses doing ballet and playing with other kids the most, which is something we are all missing for her.”
Providing timely support
Harper and her family will continue to face months of uncertainty, accompanied by unpaid bills and out-of-pocket expenses. After they connected with their hospital social worker, our community stepped in to provide support when the family needed it most.
Assistance with their mortgage and car payments allowed Harper to safely access treatment and gave her parents peace of mind knowing they would have a home to return to as a family.
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