Jackson was 13 years old, attending a Bend, Oregon middle school when he was diagnosed. Jackson was the first child served by Pediatric Foundation. Typical of kids his age, he loves comedy movies and video games, music and puzzles. He is a good student with lots of friends. However, after a few concerning symptoms were reviewed by a local doctor, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, news that took the family completely by surprise. Jackson was admitted immediately to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Oregon where he began an intense battery of tests followed by an aggressive treatment plan.
In one day Jackson and his family's entire lives were turned upside down and they stopped everything to care for him. Soon after, Jackson began a monthly chemotherapy regimen requiring a full week of treatment in the Portland children's hospital, followed by three weeks at home. This schedule was repeated for months until he was considered in remission.
The parents experienced a significant loss of income, traveling frequently to Portland and caring for Jackson at home while the unexpected travel expenses required additional cash. That's where Pediatric Foundation stepped in. We provided gas cards, food cards, and OHSU cafeteria gift cards for the family to use when traveling to the hospital.
Recently when Mom received her travel gift card packet, she said, "You have no idea how helpful this is, especially with this trip - it will be a relief to fill up my tank, use the food cards, and know that's all we'll need to get through the week". Just managing one week at a time is a familiar feeling for anyone living with cancer - but it's especially hard when it's your child.
Baby Thomas was 5 months old when he was diagnosed with cancer while his family lived in Prineville, Oregon. Partners in Care Hospice Program of Bend was caring for Thomas at their home when they contacted Pediatric Foundation. They needed help for Mom and Dad to find short term, residential housing in Bend. They felt the family would be better served living closer to medical support while caring for the child in his last few weeks of life. It was a snowy and icy season and the family was uncomfortable being so far away from Bend with a fragile and terminal infant. While the Hospice House was available, it wasn't an ideal situation for the young parents who needed ongoing nursing support for Thomas in his last weeks of life, where they needed privacy and a place for Thomas' relatives to gather.
We reached out to the generous group at Combined Communications and the Bend Shilo Inns, and coordinated multiple sources of funding for the family to live at Shilo Inns. The whole family was together throughout the Holiday season. Thomas passed away the week after Christmas.
Between Partners in Care, Pediatric Foundation, Shilo Inns and Combined Communications, we were able to help the family relax and receive the support Baby Thomas needed, while having many peaceful moments in his last days. It was our privilege to know Thomas and to serve his family and Partners in Care.
Through 2016 and 2017, Pediatric Foundation has served over a dozen families in Central Oregon. These are heartbreaking stories that continue today. Most are in active treatment while some of the children are in remission, but may struggle with post chemo and radiation side affects. And we've tragically lost children in our community when treatments weren't successful. Throughout it all, Pediatric Foundation is the support and help these parents need to maintain hope.
Whether the family is living in Ronald McDonald house, or traveling for short overnight trips, we offer customized support unique to each family. In many cases, the family car needs snow tires for the dangerous mountain passes, or auto repair to get through the season. Some families pick up groceries for the Ronald McDonald house and some eat in the hospital cafeteria. Pediatric Foundations provides food cards for both situations.
Each family is different, yet they all share a common desire for their child to survive the diagnosis of cancer. Thank you for supporting their journey.