Recovery for Rebecca Berenson

Imagine one day you are living your life, working, taking care of your family, exercising when you can because you know how important it is to take care of your health. But you haven’t been feeling that great lately. There’s always plenty of stress with balancing the special needs of your family – you are used to that, but this feels different. You are tired in a way you have never felt before. Never feeling quite right. You go to the doctor but they don’t come up with much, until a few months later when you wake up in excruciating pain with a blood clot in your spleen. You are admitted at a local hospital for several days with treatment for only the most obvious of your symptoms.
After your release from the hospital your condition only gets a worse. You decide to request a second opinion at a major research hospital in Boston.  A few days later you meet with the doctor in Boston. After reviewing the results of a blood sample taken earlier that day, he asks in a matter of fact way, “Do you know why you’re here”? You recount your recent hospitalization and that fact that you haven’t been feeling well over several months. Like a hard punch in the gut, he states simply, “you have cancer”. You are admitted into the hospital immediately. A single word changes everything. Just. Like. That. Suddenly, unexpectedly, you are in the fight for your life.
Since January, when my sister-in-law Rebecca and brother-in-law Chuck were given the news that she has a complicated form of AML Leukemia, it has been an unrelenting battle to ensure that she survives. After the initial diagnosis, she spent nearly a month at the Tufts Medical Center bone marrow transplant unit in Boston.  She is receiving her treatment from one of the most well-respected doctors for dealing with her specific form of leukemia. The planning for her bone marrow transplant is being mapped out in stages as the team assesses the progression of the disease and the logistics of lining up the donor. She was discharged to home but travels back and forth to Boston 2-3 times each week for testing, chemotherapy and radiation, but there have been a couple emergency hospitalizations to treat infections. Her immune system is down to zero as they prepare for the bone marrow transplant. In the meantime, she will continue to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
When the bone marrow transplant takes place, she will spend a month in the hospital. Once she is stable, she will be transferred to the Neely House apartments at Tufts, living in isolation in a special air filtered unit for two to four weeks more. There will be daily visits to see her doctor and someone must stay with her around the clock to assist with her care. It is a painful, brutal process, but Rebecca and Chuck are grateful for the expert care of her Tufts Medical team and hopeful that a donor will be confirmed soon.
Those of you who know their family understand the challenges they face in coping with this overwhelming situation, as their youngest daughter Liza has complex special needs which require specific and intensive management with constant one to one care for all of her needs. Even though they have jobs and good medical insurance, Rebecca’s medical leave will run out in June when the school year ends. They will have to private pay for insurance through Cobra. With loss of income, co-pays, travel expenses, medical deductibles and additional specialized care and summer camp for Liza, the financial toll is real and overwhelming. It is frightening to witness how a medical diagnosis can put a family at risk for financial disaster while they are fighting to get better. In the best-case scenario, they will most likely be looking at 9 months to one year of recovery – with fingers crossed and as many prayers as can come their way.
Many friends, co-workers, and neighbors have been extremely kind in sending well wishes, generous in making meals for the family and driving Rebecca to her appointments in Boston so Chuck can continue to work at least part time.  For all of this support we are truly grateful.

I am starting this GoFundMe campaign as a way to allow them to concentrate on Rebecca getting well and to help relieve some of the financial stress they are dealing with in addition to everything else. So often when someone we know or love faces the unthinkable, we wish there was something, anything, we could do to help. It is my hope that those of you who know this family, and perhaps a few who don’t, will donate what you can as a way to show them your support and help them get through this. May they be fortunate enough to come out the other end of this ordeal healthy and strong. Please share this with anyone you think will want to know what Rebecca and Chuck and their family are dealing with and would want to help.

With my sincere appreciation for your consideration,
Paula Rosenblum


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Organizer and beneficiary

Paula Rosenblum 
Worcester, MA
Charles Rosenblum 
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