In honor of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, we’re proud to spotlight our longest running community partner, Pinky Swear Foundation.
Every time a family hears the words, 'Your child has cancer,' they are forced to make difficult decisions. They ask themselves: 'Should I keep working while taking extended time off for treatments and hospital stays? If I quit my job, can we survive financially?'
Medical bills can be delayed, but rent is due, bills continue to arrive, and food remains a necessity. Families facing childhood cancer need help with everyday expenses. Pinky Swear Foundation provides financial support for transportation, food, and housing, allowing families to focus on their child.
Since 2015, with your help, Love Your Melon has provided over $1,000,000 in funding. This support has contributed to their Orange Envelope Program, which offers financial assistance to families within the first six months of a diagnosis or relapse. Currently, we are helping to support the All-Star Fund, which assists families with everyday expenses like car payments, gas, groceries, rent/mortgage, and utility payments.
Today we are excited to introduce you to one of Pinky Swear’s All-Star Kids, Ella!
Ella was a High School Freshman when she was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a rare and aggressive type of brain cancer. Before her diagnosis, Ella was feeling tired and started having headaches. Her mom took her to see several doctors, one of whom recommended an eye doctor. Over the holidays things escalated and on January 2nd, Ella and her parents went to the Emergency Room.
“In November, her doctor had told me, just so you know, it’s not a brain tumor. This diagnosis hadn’t even crossed my mind,” Ella mom, Kim said. “We felt that it was something more; however, we didn’t imagine for a moment that it was cancer.”
A seven-hour surgery took place immediately and life got messy fast. Her treatment was in a hospital three hours away. Kim, who worked as a substitute teacher and was long term subbing, had a decision to make. “I managed to work just one day,” said Kim. “Then I had to quit. I immediately realized that I just couldn’t think about anything else except beating this diagnosis.”
Ella also lost 40 pounds and had to use a feeding tube for a year and a half.
Although she completed treatment in September 2021, some of Ella’s greatest challenges were after her cancer treatment with trying to readjust to school: specifically trying to fit in. Upon her return, she had special needs including social anxiety which is hard enough, but, combined with the physical effects of brain cancer treatments, the ability to fit in becomes insurmountable. Despite this challenge, Ella presses on showing the same incredible strength it took for her to endure and CONQUER brain cancer.
“People don’t understand,” Ella said. “Even my friends. They are not friends outside of school and they don’t understand the process. I don’t want to explain what I’m going through, it’s just too hard.”
Since going through treatment, Ella has devoted her time and energy to those who do understand and gives back to that community. She spends her free time volunteering at the clinic, refilling the nurse’s station masks, gowns, wipes, and catheters. She also works at an elderly facility on weekends, spending time with seniors with dementia and memory loss, and would like to be a geriatric nurse one day.
Despite these struggles, Ella’s outlook is very good, and her family remains positive. “There will be time. Time to heal, time to recover, time to have fun, and most importantly, time to just be a teenager again,” said Kim. “We are very grateful.”
For Ella, Pinky Swear Foundation was there in her greatest time of need. For Ella, receiving the Orange Envelope in the mail brought her joy because she loved unpacking it. “Pinky Swear understands that in times like this, families have so many other things to worry about,” explained Kim. “We didn’t want to think about things like car payments and the gift allowed us to focus more on Ella. It was very extremely nice to receive these gifts!”
Love Your Melon is grateful for Pinky Swear Foundation and all of the organizations leading the fight against childhood cancer. To learn more about Pinky Swear’s mission, click here.