The excitement of your first-born child is overwhelming and beautiful. Your head and heart begin to fill with anticipation and joy from all that is in store for your new life and family. Then sometimes, life throws a curveball you were not prepared for.
Maria was born January 2nd, 2021. She was a beautiful little girl awaiting a life filled with princess parties and giggles. Unfortunately, that’s not how Maria’s life began. Within a few months of Maria’s new life, Mom noticed Maria’s belly was hard, her nails were not growing, and her eyes were yellow. Mom became concerned and called her pediatrician who scheduled testing to further investigate the cause of these symptoms. On August 11th, 2021, Mom received the news no parent ever wants to hear; stage 3 liver cancer, a very rare cancer known as Hepatoblastoma, had invaded her baby girl. Mom was shocked, numb, and alone. Knowing she was not going to be able to work, she worried how she would financially care for herself and her daughter as they fought to save Maria’s fragile life.
She heard about Cancer Alliance Network (CAN) from a co-worker, so she drove directly to their office. A caseworker greeted her and the two sat together while Mom explained the details of her daughter’s diagnosis and the fear that came with this news. She knew there was a long road ahead of her with medical testing, treatments, hospital stays and the financial and mental burden of keeping up with the bills for her small family. Through the support of the CAN caseworker, Mom left the office with hope knowing there were people and services willing to help her. One week later, CAN began paying for her car payment, and she began receiving gift cards for gas and food. This was the help she needed, along with the knowledge that she and Maria were not alone in this battle.
Mom endured the longest 9 weeks of her life while she waited for a liver donor that could save her daughter’s life. At age 1, Maria underwent a successful liver transplant. Maria and Mom got to celebrate on March 24th, 2022, when they got to “ring the bell”. The cancer was gone!
Maria will be celebrating her third birthday on January 2nd, 2024. Mom is grateful for the miracle she received from the donor and the generosity of CAN. She tells us that CAN financially assisted her with her bills and helped her navigate the toughest season of her life. It is an amazing organization that has a team of compassionate individuals and a mission that is important and needed for the cancer families of our community. Cancer Alliance Network is devoted to providing financial assistance, support and resources to children and families in Collier and Lee Counties battling cancer.