LAURA ALLEN Guest columnist
Her name is Hope. A single mom who got her life back on track after a nasty divorce. Then came COVID-19, and she lost her job.
Just when it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, her precious 2-year-old was diagnosed with retino-blastoma and referred to the Duke Eye Institute for treatment. The hospital social worker, as always, referred Hope to Children’s Cancer Partners; she was overwhelmed.
Duke is a three-hour drive from Florence, a trip she would take three or more times every month, with overnight stays, for 18-24 months. That’s if it goes well. Hope had been about to sell her car to pay the rent. Imagine yourself in her shoes!
We contacted her within 24 hours, our default, and assured her that we would be with her and Tiffany during their trip. We helped her to be patient with her rent and car payments; got her child benefits restored and then did our usual help with treatment, travel and accommodation (the Ronald McDonald House in Duke was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions), meals away from home and in-kind assistance with household needs, personal toiletries, etc.
Did you know you can’t buy diapers with food stamps?
We visit Hope at least once a month (currently through ZOOM) to know what she needs to ensure Tiffany has access to timely and complete treatment. We report to her social worker at Duke Children’s Hospital every month to properly coordinate support. Two months ago Hope needed help with brakes and tires. She has found a part-time remote job that allows her to work from home, and we are quite proud of her resilience and consider her ‘new normal’.