When Childhood Cancer Hits a Single Parent Household
For single mom Deonne, facing her son’s cancer diagnosis has been an isolating experience. “We can’t go to the movies or church together. Everyone is being quiet and doesn’t know how to talk about it. They don’t understand when we turn down invitations that Chance could get sick, he has few white blood cells,” she explained.
Just a few months ago, Deonne was noticing her typically healthy 10-year-old Chance was growing more and more tired. He didn’t want to get up and play. They were nearing his annual checkup so she was waiting to speak with his pediatrician until that appointment. But then Chance got a high fever he couldn’t shake.
The prospect of cancer was nowhere in Deonne’s mind when she took Chance to the ER ‑ she thought the doctors would examine him and send them on their way with some antibiotics. Those expectations were shattered when she was suddenly surrounded by surgeons, the oncology team and admissions staff.
Chance was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a type of childhood cancer that starts on the kidneys. The tumor was so big it had invaded his kidneys, spleen, diaphragm and both lungs so he first needed chemotherapy to shrink it before they could operate.
As the sole earner for her three children, Deonne was torn between caring for her other two children, her job, paying bills and being with Chance when he was hospitalized. Thankfully, the social worker at the hospital gave her information about The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS). Deonne filled out an application for emergency and travel assistance.
Deonne described the financial expenses as “unbearable”, but the NCCS was able to help. The organization provided money for travel to Chance’s outpatient appointments and additional support Deonne used for groceries after his initial stay in the hospital.
“The help people have given us has been a blessing in our time of need. Most people think this won’t happen to you, and you hear people ask for donations but you just don’t think about it. Then it’s your child. Your child who you gave birth to, who you’ve watched play…and you can’t take it away,” she said.
She describes the trials they’re going through now with blood transfusions, radiation and more chemotherapy as even harder than when his tumors were removed. Chance’s weight loss has been extreme and he no longer has a kidney, spleen and a portion of his diaphragm.
“Chance is very high-spirited, he doesn’t complain. My son is the strongest person I’ve ever seen. He says ‘it hurts’, but he doesn’t cry. I’ve never seen a child go through pain over and over again like he has and be so strong.”
Chance has 30 more weeks of chemotherapy and Deonne prays he won’t get any sicker. The NCCS will continue to provide travel assistance for the treatments he needs to save his life. Deonne takes comfort in knowing that, thanks to the NCCS, they’ll never have to face cancer alone.
“There’s somebody out there who actually cares what we’re going through. Every dime helps so I can spend time with my son,” she concluded.