Assisted Children: Individual Stories

COVID-19 Hits Hard Family Battling Childhood Cancer and Rare Syndrome

Collection Complete March 2021.  Thanks to generous contributors, JJCCF’s Financial Assistance / Advocacy Programs and collaborative support from partner charities,  this family benefited from having access to basic human needs during a dreadful time.


Vanessa, 5-years-old, Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital at Broward Health

Vanessa was diagnosed with Wilms’ Tumor (kidney cancer) October 2019. She has undergone two surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy. After her first surgery, parents were told Vanessa’s life was in danger so her malignant tumor was not extracted. Vanessa remained hospitalized for over one month and during her second surgery, her kidney surrounded by the cancerous tumor was successfully removed. Doctors tried to provide her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but her suppressed immune system would not tolerate both treatments. In a second attempt she received extensive radiation followed by chemotherapy and will soon need a Bone Marrow Transplant. Her case is complicated because of her secondary diagnosis. Bloom’s Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, makes her more sensitive to chemotherapy often causing intolerable and adverse side effects.


Vanessa’s parents plea for rent assistance to prevent the family from losing their mobile home and gift cards for food / gas. Her hard working father lost his job working at a restaurant due to the pandemic. Vanessa’s mother had to stop working as a housekeeper to care for her full-time.

Letter from Hospital Social Worker:

Dear Jessica June Children’s Cancer Foundation,
Vanessa is a 5-year-old pediatric oncology patient at Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital at Broward Health Medical Center.  Vanessa was first diagnosed with Wilms Tumor in October 2019 and has been treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.  Her case is complicated by a secondary diagnosis of Bloom’s Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.  This condition makes her more sensitive to chemotherapy and radiation, causing side effects to be worse, and the amount of chemotherapy she can receive to be limited.
Vanessa’s father had been working full time initially, with some reduced hours due to his daughter’s treatment.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, her father was let go from his job at a restaurant.  This family would benefit from any assistance possible during this time of need.  Thank you to the Jessica June Children’s Cancer Foundation for the support that would be so beneficial to this family.

Melissa Stachowiak, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital Broward Health

Click on the PDF icon to view original letter from the Hospital Social Worker

Plea from Father:

On October 6, 2019, my daughter had ongoing pain in her stomach so we took her to the hospital Emergency Room.  While she was hospitalized, various tests detected a problem in her kidney.  After a few days, the doctor informed us Vanessa needed an emergency surgery to remove her cancerous tumor.  Her first surgery results were not good; doctors told us they were not able to extract the tumor because her life was in danger as her health was deteriorating.  The second surgery attempt was successful in removing her kidney surrounded by the cancerous tumor.  During this difficult process, while Vanessa was in the hospital over one month, my wife lost her job cleaning homes. Due to the pandemic, I lost my job working at an Italian restaurant.  I have been unemployed over one month unable to provide for my family.  My daughter continues to fight as she receives chemotherapy and radiation treatments and we plea God will save her.