WHITMAN — We all see the effects of global inflation stemming from the economic strains of the pandemic — now imagine trying to cope with those increased costs while you have to pay for gas for those extra trips into Boston on top of medical costs, when your child has cancer.
Cops for Kids With Cancer, a 501 (c) 3 organization helping parents in just such circumstances, knows what families are going through and provide financial gifts to families facing the sometimes crippling financial effects of their child’s cancer diagnosis.
Some of the group’s members have been there themselves.
MCPCA Director of Law Enforcement Chief Thomas Grenham is one of them. Serving on the Board of Directors, he is a retired state trooper and the proud father of a now healthy and lovely teenaged daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia as a small child.
He brought comfort to a the Eagan family of Whitman last month in the form of a $5,000 check from Cops For Kids With Cancer, and a swag bag of gifts for their son Jared, who was diagnosed on Oct. 26, 2021 with T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia – a very aggressive cancer.
“We’re very early on right now,” mom Charyn Eagan said. “We still have a year and five months of treatment to go.”
It’s a form of cancer that requires a long-term treatment plan, she said, because it’s a blood cancer and it likes to “hide out” in different spots in the body. Early on, the amount of cancer Jared had and missing the threshold for continuing with one course of treatment including an additional round of intense chemotherapy, required him to stay in-patient at Children’s, so he has not been able to be in school since his diagnosis, according to Charyn.
The extent of his fatigue from the cancer has meant even remote classes to keep up with school were not feasible.
“We pretty much missed this whole year,” Charyn said. “I have to be grateful that we got through this phase, things are looking good [and] he’s responding really well to treatment.”
But, for months they’ve had to contend with the nausea, fatigue, neuropathy, which has left him unable to walk at times.
“Still, you’d never know he was sick, because he’s an outgoing, spunky kid,” she said.
What does the Cops for Kids with Cancer donation mean for the family?
“My, god,” Charyn said. “Relief. I can’t even tell you how much we’ve been suffering – not financially suffering, but it’s been tough.”
Jared, 13, is a fan of fishing who has caught some sizeable bass in Hobart’s Pond,
“I have a picture [from when] someone caught a 10.5-pound large-mouth bass,” he said, noting that the fisherman let it go so another angler could have a crack at it.
“He has these tackle boxes with all this colorful stuff in there and he knows what they’re all for, what they all are,” his mom said.
His dad Angelo said Walmart in Abington has given Jared fishing equipment, as well.
“It’s really good, because he goes fishing and some kids don’t even have gear, so they’ll use his stuff,” Charyn said.
The community has also been supportive.
“I already knew Whitman was a great place to live,” she said. But I felt that in my heart and soul when this happened to us.”
Charyn and Angelo both grew up in Boston, but have been slowly heading away from the city, where they both still work. Angelo works for the Air Force and Charyn is an engineer. They built a house in Whitman and say it was the best decision they ever made.
The checks, funded largely through the organization’s participation in the Boston Marathon as an annual fundraiser, as well as community fundraisers, police department project and individual website donations, helps families in any way they need it.
“With support from police departments like Whitman and others and we’re able to help families,” said Grenham, who has been on the board of directors for four years. “My daughter had leukemia as a kid and she’s 19 now and in college.”
Those costs could be non-covered treatment or medications, travel and parking for hospital stays, eating away from home, babysitters, possible home alterations — whatever they need — especially when one parent has to quit work to be available for their child at all times.
Every month the charity divides $40,000 between eight families. The $5,000 they each receive comes with no strings attached.
“You do what you want with it, whatever makes your life easier,” Grenham said. “It’s our pleasure to help you.”
“You’ve definitely made an impact on our life and I can’t thank you enough,” MOM said. “It’s awesome, but it’s kind of sad at the same time that you have to do this for families. … The only thing we can do is give back.”
Jared’s sister Gabby, who will be a senior at WHRHS in the fall, isthinking about Bridgewater State for college, but is unsure what she wants to study.
“She doesn’t need to know,” her dad said, adding there’s plenty of time for her to figure that out..
The charity, which started out in 2002 as a golf rivalry between a Boston Police team and one from Ireland’s Garda Siochana, or national police service. They decided the event should raise funds to donate to a local hospital to help children with cancer. It is now run by a 20-plus person volunteer Board of Directors, mostly active and retired police officers and friends of law enforcement.
While the funds initially went entirely to children’s oncology units at MGH and the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, a portion of the funds they raise now goes directly to families.
“We can all help,” the website copsforkidswithcancer.org states. “Our donations have, for example, saved a family from eviction, helped pay down overwhelming bills and paid to repair the only vehicle used to travel back and forth to the hospital. The situations are heartbreaking and all too real.”