With grace and determination

Name: Madison
Age at diagnosis: 18 months
Diagnosis: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
How Family Reach helped: Grant to cover utilities

In late February 2010, Shauna’s life was suddenly turned upside down. She noticed that the belly of her 18-month-old daughter, Madison, seemed bigger, so she quickly took her to the doctor. The enlarged belly turned out to be swelling in her liver and spleen caused by acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a common form of childhood leukemia. Almost from the start, Shauna was faced with an emergent situation, the first of several during the course of Madison’s illness. Serious complications occurred during a bone marrow aspiration that required Madison to be connected to life support for a few days. Like so many other children going through cancer treatment, emergency visits to hospitals for treatment of infections were not uncommon for Madison. Shauna marvels at the resiliency Madison has shown in life-threatening situations, “She’s always pulled through.”

Prior to Madison’s diagnosis, Shauna was working full-time in a dialysis center and studying to become a nurse. She put her work and education aside in order to care for Madison. Shauna incurred new expenses associated with her daughter’s treatment, while simultaneously having to adjust to a lower household income. On her own as a single mom, Shauna reached out to family, friends, and organizations to help with everyday living expenses and the costs of Madison’s treatment. Through the efforts of social workers at Dana-Farber, Family Reach provided additional support with a generous grant to cover the family’s high utility bills. Shauna was amazed and deeply grateful for the assistance provided by Family Reach. “It was awesome! I just needed it. I’m beyond thankful. I would do anything I could to give back.”

After 3 years of treatment, Madison was in remission and Shauna was able to return to work. After a year in remission, the unthinkable happened—they received news of Madison’s relapse. There were limited funds for rent, utilities, and everyday necessities. Family Reach helped them get back on their feet and focus on Madison’s recovery. They are now continuing through more difficult years of treatment and financial challenges, but Family Reach will be there for them every step on the way to recovery.

Last update: July 31, 2014