Cancer is insidious and unforgiving to those children and families who are forcibly afflicted by this disease. A cancer diagnosis of any kind from, leukemia to a bone tumor, can physically, emotionally and mentally impact the entire family unit in some capacity. Yet, one area that most do not think of when a child’s diagnosed is the immense, and often extraordinary, financial impact that’s felt. Cancer is completely blind to socioeconomic status. “It” does not say, “Let me pick this family because I know they can take on the monetary strain I am going to subject them to.” That’s not how it works. The strain is heavy and often cumbersome. A weight no family should carry when simultaneously psychosocially supporting a child with hospital stays, clinic visits, chemotherapy treatments, blood draws…just to name a few of the things these children endure while on their cancer journey.
As a social worker at the Cancer Center for 8-and-a-half years, I saw first-hand how 2 income households dwindled to 1, how then income from what was once a 1 income household completely disappeared and that tumbles into a myriad of psychosocial concerns that a social worker must address. If a caregiver is burdened and stressed by thoughts associated with how he or she is going to put food on the table, pay for that ridiculously hefty Houston summer utility bill and his or her mobile phone, which can be the only mode of communication with the medical team and their family, the combination of all of these compounding factors can inadvertently cause the caregiver to be less aware or vested in the cancer journey. This is when the social worker and Houston Children’s Charity (HCC) can become a lighthouse of hope for that family in the midst of the hurricane called cancer. When everything is topsy-turvy and the family cannot fathom that anything can be done to release them of these worries, the social worker will sit with the family and assess how the family is functioning from all aspects, mentally/emotionally/financially, and will partner with the family to ensure that all available resources are tapped into. One may ask why does the social worker need to do this and what’s the big deal? The social worker is the family’s psychosocial link to the system it has been thrust into and the social worker can alleviate some of that financial burden on a case-by-case basis.
Here is where Houston Children’s Charity plays a pivotal part in the family’s cancer journey and assists social workers in keeping the family vested in the journey. HCC has committed to providing financial support, based on social worker involvement, to our children and families for a range of bills and items such as: rent/mortgage, mobile phone, utilities, nutritional supplements and/or orthotics/prosthetics. The organization has chosen to stand with our children and families by offering a generous $100,000 a year gift for 10 years for the sole purpose of addressing these possible financial worries. This gift has not only benefitted our children and their families but it has become a vital asset to the social work team at the Cancer Center. Houston Children’s Charity gift has assisted countless families over the years and we are extremely grateful for their ongoing support and commitment to Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers.