It took Kerry a long time to get a diagnosis for her daughter Khianna who has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). On top of the stress and worry, Kerry lost her job and the financial implications of Khianna’s illness set in. As part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Kerry explains:
“At first I put Khianna’s illness down to growing pains so I wasn’t too worried. But over Christmas she was being sick a lot and had been very tired which wasn’t normal for her.
“Just after Christmas we went to the hospital but they told us she would get over it and it would get better. I went back and forth to different hospitals about 28 times and we finally got a diagnosis in March.
Coping with work
“Before Khianna was diagnosed, I was working in schools as a teacher for special needs children working 1-on-1 and I loved it. Whenever Khianna was sick I had to leave work because there was no one else to look after her so I had to leave. My contract was up for renewal in March and I think because I had to leave all the time, they said they couldn’t take me on. It was heart-breaking.
“After I lost my job, I got into a lot of debt - council tax arrears, rent arrears and credit card bills all piled up and all my rainy day funds disappeared.
“Considering everything we went through the financial problems is the hardest thing to deal with.”
“It’s not easy, you have to call all the companies and organisations to sort it, you have to jump through so many hoops and I just didn’t have time. Even when you do get through, it’s hard to tell people my daughter had leukaemia – all they can say is ‘sorry’ and I didn’t want sympathy.
The car parking fees are expensive and we were there daily at St George's hospital so I was spending around £20 a day. The system is different at every hospital so once you sorted it out at one hospital it’s a different rule for another and you are starting again. My child can’t walk far so you have to park as closely as you can but the closer you get, the more expensive it is.
“I wouldn’t have got through any of this without Lucy Hill, my CLIC Sargent social worker, she is a godsend. If it wasn’t for people like her, people like me would be a really bad way. We met her on one of our first visits to the hospital, she introduced herself to me and Khianna, she explained what she does and how CLIC Sargent can help.
“She makes us feel so relaxed, she is like a friend now and Khianna always loves to see her. If I want to cry, she listens and no matter how busy she is she always gets back to me with answers to my questions. She’s an amazing person and she really saved me from getting depressed and giving up.
“She helped me out with my financial troubles, she gave all the right information and pointed me in the right direction letting me know what to ask and who to ask. I had some grants from CLIC Sargent which made a massive difference.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2016
This September, during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, CLIC Sargent is focussing on the financial impact of cancer. It’s vital families can access the financial support they need.