Help Save Carlene - Stage 4 Retinoblastoma
This family has lost two children, ages 11 and 22, to cancer and asthma. Please help them save Carlene, who is undergoing aggressive treatment for metastatic eye cancer at the age of 2. Her mom discovered she was pregnant just weeks prior to Carlene’s relapse and is giving birth away from home without her family while caring for Carlene in treatment. Her husband has not been granted a visa to travel from their home in Jamaica to Carlene’s treating hospital (Memorial Sloan Kettering) in NY.
1) Medical, living and transportation expenses
Carlene’s diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment were unknown upon arrival in NY. They have been spending upwards of $10k/ month on medical, living and transportation expenses. While navigating the most overwhelming situation possible, it’s amazing that a child’s survival is still dependent on their parents’ bank account. Donations will help to cover medical, living, and transportation expenses while Carlene is in treatment and recovery and rehabilitation.
2) Preserve Carlene's reproductive organs
While certainly not at the top of lifesaving procedures, it is soul-crushing to know that after all our children go through, they will continue to suffer lifelong consequences. One of which is infertility. Having a young child undergo aggressive treatment now comes with a recent medical opportunity to harvest their ovary prior to treatment rendering them infertile. As a cancer mom, I can tell you how emotionally-involved this decision is and how sad it is that without several thousands of dollars upfront, these opportunities are lost.
3) Blood & Plasma
While all blood types are acceptable, and any donations not used for Carlene will go to other pediatric patients, Carlene herself desperately needs blood and platelet infusions at Memorial Sloan Kettering if you are local and can donate. Please contact Joe Licata at [email redacted] or [phone redacted], the Manager, or the Blood Donor Room at [phone redacted] to schedule an appointment.
4) Write to the Embassy!
We need to get Lakisha’s husband to her. He’s at risk of losing his baby while not being able to help her or help with (or even meet) his soon-to-be earthside baby. They’ve been trying to get his visa for several months to no avail. It is unknown at this time exactly how long Carlene will have to stay in NYC for treatment, recovery and rehabilitation. Call, write; however, you can help. I called and wrote congressmen and women, their aids, the Jamaican embassy, and everyone I could think of who might be able to pull strings or bring this to the top of their list.
I cannot think of a time more urgent than now to grant an emergency medical visa, yet she has not received so much as a response despite multiple pleas from herself and the hospital directly to teh US Embassy in Jamaica.
THE FULL STORY:
In 2006, Lakisha suffered every parent’s greatest fear when she lost her eldest daughter, Kiona, to cancer at the age of 11.
Lakisha started the Kiona Foundation in her daughter’s honor and has been helping cancer patients since.
In 2020, Lakisha’s youngest daughter was also diagnosed with the same type of cancer at just five months old.
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but those who have experienced life’s greatest tragedies know that’s a lie.
Lakisha’s eldest son, just seven years old at the time of his sister’s passing, had grown from the family’s tragedy to become the most helpful and compassionate young man. He had big plans for his future while giving back at every opportunity, doing things like dressing up as Spider-Man and bringing joy to his community.
He passed away on April 9th, 2021, following an asthma attack at just 22 years old.
A month later, Lakisha was celebrating Carlene’s status of “no evidence of disease” (“NED”) while mourning the loss of her second child. You never recover from these types of losses, and Lakisha and the entire family will forever mourn losing her two oldest babies at such young ages.
But in the mix of trying to recover from yet another unimaginable loss, Carlene was re-diagnosed. Microscopic cancer cells hid in her body as they often do and came back with a vengeance, quickly stealing her left eye just days after her 2nd birthday and putting her in the high-risk arm of treatment.
And the cancer had spread. Her treatment options were limited and harsh. Just weeks before her re-diagnosis, Lakisha learned she was pregnant. While normally a time of great celebration, Lakisha is not set to give birth alone, thousands of miles from her home in Jamaica, where her husband has been denied an emergency medical travel visa.
Please help them. They are paying thousands monthly for medical, living and transportation expenses in NY for Carlene to be treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Carlene is preparing for a bone marrow transplant which is very risky and will wipe out her entire immune system, leaving her in isolation for a minimum of 30 days at the hospital.
Once discharged after the transplant, Carlene will have to spend a minumum of 100 days in isolation outpateint while her immune system rebuilds and she generates new bone marrow.
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New York, NY