On and off over the years, I’ve volunteered as a writer for an organization called Small Can Be Big that helps connect individual families in crisis with short-term funding, often for things like rent or repairs. I hadn’t done a story for a while, but just last week I offered to do one and totally by coincindence, it happened to be a request from a family whose young son has cancer. The mother has had to stop working to take care of him, the medical bills are stacking up, and they’re now behind on their mortgage payments. (You can read their story and help them here.)
This is an issue very close to my heart. Ever since Clio’s diagnosis, I’ve been acutely aware of just how “best case” our scenario is, in terms of what our life looked like going into the ordeal: We were all healthy (not counting the cancer, I mean). My depression situation was and has remained (amazingly!) stable. Our marriage and home life was good, and our finances were, too. We both had flexible jobs, and could still keep working to some degree. We had a large, loving circle of friends and relatives to support us.
We’re also lucky enough to live in Massachusetts where (thanks, Mitt Romney!) we have an excellent health insurance system. Any co-pays or expenses related to Clio’s care that our private insurance wouldn’t cover have been covered by Medicaid.
We had all this. All these advantages. And it was still so goddamned hard.
I can’t even imagine how much harder it is to be dealing with a seriously ill child and serious financial strain. Or other health issues. Or addiction. Or abuse. Or any of a million other things that regularly complicate people’s lives.
I can’t imagine it, but I try to. In fact it’s the scenario at the heart of the novel I’m working on right now: What it would be like for a very dysfunctional, very unstable family to have a child with cancer.
But I swear it’s not a completely depressing book! Honest!
Anyway, if you can, go pitch in a few bucks at Small Can Be Big to help a family who could use a hand right now.
And if you’re feeling further inspired, check out Pinky Swear — an organization with a pretty amazing story that’s dedicated to providing financial assistance to families of kids with cancer. They reached out to me recently* after reading my post for Dana Farber on ways to help families facing childhood cancer. And they are doing excellent work.
It’s good to know that there are folks out there trying to make things easier on families going through what we did.
*I’m choosing to take Pinky Swear getting in touch, and the Small Can Be Big thing, as signs that I’m writing the novel I should be writing. Or something. Right? (Work with me here, people.)