By: Trish Adkins
In March 2020, as New York City began to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malicki family from Wisconsin began to plan their trip East, to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), located right in epicenter of the outbreak.
It is a trip they’ve made at least 60 times in the past four years for their daughter Julia. Julia, who is now 5 years old, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a type of childhood eye cancer, when she was a baby. The cutting-edge treatment, a form of surgical chemotherapy, was not available at her home hospital. New York City was the best option.
This trip was more complicated than past trips. The pandemic made air travel not only risky, but unavailable, as airlines cancelled direct flights. The Malickis began to plan their drive East -- a 16-hour trip. They planned for gas and hotel lodging for three days.
Then, they found out that Julia would have to get to New York sooner, to be screened for COVID-19 before they could sedate her for her exam. This change added more days and more expenses to their trip.
Their social worker from MSKCC told them that Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) had started an emergency fund to help families in treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jessica, Julia’s mom, was familiar with ALSF from travel support they received in 2017, at the start of Julia’s cancer treatment.
“I thought maybe the Foundation would just be providing a small amount of support,” said Jessica. “I had no idea how much they would end up providing.”
Working with her social worker and the family services team at ALSF, Jessica found out that the ALSF COVID-19 fund would help the family with the extra hotel room nights and provide grocery store gift cards.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ALSF has provided support to more than 700 families going through childhood cancer treatment totaling over $220,000. This support provides families with grocery store gift cards as well as gas and lodging support.
“When Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation came through with support, it felt almost like you found the cure,” said Jessica. “Their support gave us a sense of an army behind us, helping with the heavy lifting of this diagnosis and making it feel manageable.”
Knowing they had the support of ALSF, the Malickis began their trip to New York. Julia tested negative for COVID-19 and was cleared for her exam.
Once they got to their reserved hotel room outside of the city, that hotel shut down as a result of COVID-19 concerns. The ALSF Family Services team helped the Malickis find another hotel room. Julia had her exam.
Unfortunately, that exam revealed that Julia’s tumor had grown, and she would need to stay an extra day for surgical chemotherapy treatment. Julia had her treatment and now is back home in Wisconsin with her two older brothers.
Julia is scheduled to go back to MSKCC later in May.
“ALSF is giving families lifesaving help. Their support helped keep our family going, even when it seemed like the world was ending all around us,” said Jessica.
Support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation on #GivingTuesdayNow
We are so grateful to supporters like you who are looking for ways to help childhood cancer families during COVID-19. With the future so uncertain, now is the time to give!
That’s why Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) is participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, the global day of giving and unity on May 5, 2020, to raise funds for childhood cancer families who have been affected by COVID-19. Kids like Julia can’t stop cancer treatment even though they are immunocompromised and at-risk if exposed to the disease. Getting groceries is not possible for some families. They need your help now more than ever.