I spoke with Lisa Abbenante, executive director of the Tomorrow Fund, last spring. This was a time when everyone was re-connecting and thinking of things to say to the question, “How was your year, crazy right?”. I asked some version of this question to Lisa and she did me the favor of responding honestly, and it was hard to hear. Like cancer isn't hard enough.
A significant portion of my life, and the life of my family, has been spent at The Tomorrow Fund, which is an independent nonprofit based on the Rhode Island Hospital campus that aids any child treated at Hasbro Children's Hospital (you do not have to be a RI family to be treated at the Tomorrow Fund). My son Henry was diagnosed with leukemia on June 1, 2004. He was running around the house at a Memorial Day party we had- I still remember him dancing to The Who of all things (kid music!)- and he bumped into the wall. He quickly had a bruise in a weird place on his back. I had this sick feeling in my gut, and I knew. I verified by googling “easy bruising in children” and there it was-leukemia. We took him to the pediatrician the next day and she said there was a bed waiting for us at Hasbro, and that Henry would be a patient in the Tomorrow Fund clinic.
Henry in treatment, puffed out on steroids.
It’s a little easier to write about this as my son Henry is healthy and in college now. It wasn’t always the case. We were in the hospital over a month, and then returned frequently for 3-day inpatient infusions. He was sick from the chemotherapy and steroids, needed blood transfusions, and was hospitalized with pneumonia and bronchitis etc. etc. etc. No need to get into too many details here, you get the idea it was an emotional and physical sh*t-show/nightmare. What I knew, however, was that our family was in the best place possible for his treatment and for care.
A healthy 21 year-old Henry! God Bless!
The Tomorrow Fund makes a very difficult situation the best it can be. It provides group support for families of cancer patients. They provide teachers and volunteers to play with kids when they are in-patient and in the out-patient clinic. They pay for parking when you go to the hospital. For in-patient stays there is a $15 stipend that families can use for gas, childcare, food, or whatever.
There is still fun, even in treatment. The Tomorrow Fund makes sure of that.
In the summer your child can go to Camp Dotty- a free Tomorrow Fund camp where a kid walking around with an IV can have fun while experienced caregivers make them forget they have cancer. The Tomorrow Fund introduced us to doctors, nurses, social workers, and volunteers who lovingly supported us to achieve our goal- to save our son with the fewest side effects possible while diverting his attention to something other than cancer.
Henry and Asa (siblings can go too!) At Camp Dotty
Nap time whenever you want it at Camp Dotty
Now imagine you have a child with cancer during Covid. Think about having chemotherapy during a pandemic. A PANDEMIC! The precautions on top of precautions, the shutdown of regular “cancer-safe” activities parents rely on, the further isolation of kids and families. There are parents and caregivers who can’t work because they may bring Covid back home to their child. The financial strain on top of emotional turmoil. The anxiety of interacting in a Covid world when you have a child on chemotherapy. There are no words for that.
We need to support organizations like The Tomorrow Fund that are holding hurting families together every day, no matter what the world brings. Consider selecting The Tomorrow Fund as your nonprofit beneficiary when you shop at Second Serve, or consider donating to them directly. Thank you Tomorrow Fund, for what you do in challenging times, and what you are doing in pandemic times. Second Serve is honored to feature you on our site.