Vanessa Behan Supports Family During Cancer Treatment
Last March, at the beginning of the pandemic, Nick and Jodi were dealing with the new stressors most families in our community were facing – how would two working parents be in two places at once – and help four school-age children learn virtually, manage a house, and care for a young baby without the help of daycare, school, or after school programs? As a family of seven Nick and Jodi were used to juggling parenting duties, but this was a whole new challenge. Within days of the shutdown Nick found himself easily exhausted and unable to shake the feeling that something was not right with his heath. He soon found himself in urgent care, later the hospital, and finally with Jodi in front of an oncologist hearing devastating news—Nick had stage 1 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
With little time to process the news, Nick was scheduled to start treatment immediately, facing a series of chemotherapy treatments, PET Scans, and follow-up appointments. Not only did the first treatments take a physical toll on Nick, the treatments were made more difficult because he would go alone. Jodi desperately wanted to be with Nick, but did not have childcare for the couple’s one-year-old son Noah. While the older siblings were capable of babysitting Noah, Jodi did not want to put this burden on the kids as they were already dealing with so much between virtual school, a pandemic, and worrying about a parent with cancer.
Jodi went through all their support options, but came up short finding care for Noah. One afternoon Jodi remembered her work’s charity of choice Vanessa Behan. Annually, Jodi had been making donations to Vanessa Behan through her employer’s matching charity giving program and hoped we were open and could provide the help her family needed. Having not closed our doors during the pandemic, Jodi was relieved when our Family Support Staff answered her call and assured her Vanessa Behan could care for Noah as soon as the next morning during Nick’s next chemo treatment.
Like many parents utilizing our services for the first time Jodi was apprehensive, had many questions for our staff– is my crisis severe enough, will Noah be safe, do I make too much money to receive help, am I not a good parent for asking for help, etc., etc. Our staff assured Jodi that no matter what a family is going through whether it be as simple as needing an hour break to breathe or needing to be at treatment with a sick loved one – Vanessa Behan is here to support all families, no matter the reason.
The next morning Jodi left Noah in our care and was relieved to be able to be by Nick’s side, worry free for the first time during his treatment. While Jodi focused on supporting Nick, their littlest Noah enjoyed the day reading stories about farm animals, playing blocks with new toddler friends, and giggling through many games of peek-a-boo with our House Parents.
For the remainder of the year Vanessa Behan continued to support Jodi and Nick’s family and care for Noah. Our House Parents provided Noah with a safe space to play and explore, warm meals and quiet nap times while his parents got to focus their attention on Nick’s recovery. On Nick’s long treatment days we were able to supply frozen dinners to Jodi when she picked up Noah so she did not have to worry about planning and preparing meals for the family. Vanessa Behan’s support never wavered for the family as we worked to support Jodi and Nick in every way we could.
In late summer everyone in our Intake Office celebrated when Jodi called revealing that Nick’s last PET scan had come back clear and he’d been confirmed cancer free. Nick received his last treatment in September and had his chemo port removed in late December. While the family no longer needs Vanessa Behan support with appointments, they’ve been assured that we are still a resource for them if they need respite care or if any future needs arise.
On behalf of this family, and the thousands of other families we support, thank you for keeping our doors open, providing a safe nurturing environment for local children, and giving parents like Nick and Jodi the encouragement and support they desperately needed.