Children diagnosed with cancer often require specialized care from hospitals in another city or even across the country. In addition to medical expenses, parents and caregivers also have to pay for gas, parking, meals and lodging during their children’s treatment.
Children’s Cancer Partners of the Carolinas, an organization that has reimbursed some of cancer patients’ food and travel expenses, announced Tuesday that it is expanding its transportation assistance to alleviate household costs for North and South Carolina families.
CCP is adding a new van for health care service, helping patients and families get home necessities and family care.
CCP family advocates will ride the van to visit and assist children who are taking or recovering from cancer treatment. Patient families can also take the ride to medical appointments. The van will also transport household and personal care items such as diapers and soap products to patient families.
The van is a donation by The Cannon Foundation, a North Carolina philanthropy that funds capital and equipment for health care organizations.
“We are proud to support CCP, a Carolinas-based nonprofit that makes sure our children get proper access to care, regardless of how far they must travel or how expensive it gets,” said Suzanne Philemon, executive director of The Cannon Foundation in a CCP news release.
According to the CCP report, a single hospitalization can cost more than $40,000 on average, and three out of every four families lose half or more of their household income during treatment.
The CCP director, Laura Allen, said, “We provide immediate comprehensive and continuous support to battling cancer, [such as] travel assistance, lodging, and sometimes emotional support to our families.”
Allen unveiled the new van in front of the University of North Carolina Cancer Medical Center in Chapel HIll.
UNC Health is CCP’s greatest referral source, Allen said.
The van bears the faces of three young N.C. children who have been battling cancers for a few months up to a couple of years.
Gracie Locklear, turning 7 in a month, is one of the smiling faces.
She has been in cancer remission with tumors that have stopped growing for a year. During her past four years of undergoing chemotherapy at UNC Health, her parents drove her from Maxton, 100 miles south of Chapel Hill, sometimes three times a week. Each trip involved hospital stays or hours of treatments.
Another face on the side of the van is Perry Coxe, 5, who is a CCP-supported child from Sanford, N.C. She has been taking treatment for almost a year and is looking forward to ringing the bell that marks the end of her treatment in August.
The Locklear and Coxe families have received CCP’s food and travel reimbursement and can get needed supplies and after-care assistance from CCP’s new van transportation service, which can move patients, social workers and goods.
According to Allen, more than 700 children newly diagnosed in the Carolinas this year will join the more than 8,000 patients who are in treatment or remission. “We stand alongside the children and their families until they reach age 21.“
Griffin Coxe, Perry’s dad, told The News & Observer reporter at the unveiling event that he has met families over time who talked about traveling challenges.
“The resources and the love that [CCP] shared is invaluable and changed our lives during a very hard time,” said Blair Locklear, mother of the almost-7-year-old Gracie.
Monetary support is part of CCP’s mission. But the social connection has also been important, said father Tony Locklear.
“Just being there and asking ‘how’s Gracie going?’ means a lot when you’re in those deep, dark times, and going through things,” he said.
Charlie Galuten, 7, the third face on the van, went to camp on Tuesday and didn’t attend the unveiling, said CCP director Allen. Charlie completed his treatments in March 2021.
Charlie’s mom wants her child to “experience all the things he’d missed,” according to Allen.
These cheerful smiles will be cruising together on North Carolina’s highways and roadways very soon.
This story was originally published July 13, 2022 11:04 AM.
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