Families with children battling cancer recovering from Harvey

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- Thousands of families throughout our area are dealing with the clean-up of Harvey with homes ruined and cars flooded.

Now, imagine the families of children struggling with a serious illness, while also recovering from the storm. The stress of childhood cancer hits a family emotionally and financially, but when you add a flooded home into the mix, the challenges escalate.

Letha Ballard is a mom of seven that lives in a part of Katy hit hard by Harvey. Her entire downstairs had to be gutted.

"We have all the demo done. Our adjuster comes Thursday, and that's a long process, too," said Ballard.

The financial impact is taking a major toll, especially because she and her husband continue to pay the mounting medical bills for their son, Jacob.

"It doesn't matter how good your insurance is. Cancer is expensive," said Ballard.

Jacob was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma at the age of 15.

"Until you're a parent, and it's your child, it's hard to comprehend what those words mean," said Ballard.

Jacob went through six rounds of chemo that made him incredibly sick.

"I basically slept through my entire first round just waking up every once in a while feeling really sick," said Jacob.

Chemo was followed by a surgery where his left pelvis was removed, leaving one leg several inches shorter than the other.

"For me personally, it wasn't a big deal because I was told, yeah, I'll walk again, and that was my priority going into surgery," he explains.

After the surgery, Jacob had to endure more chemo. Jacob is now in recovery, and through it all, the charitable organization Candlelighters helped the family deal with this difficult time.

"We focus on the everyday support for families with cancer," says Kelsey Tarpinian with Candlelighters.

When Harvey hit, Candlelighters called to check on their families.

"We have over 4,000 on our mailing list and 60 of them said they were flooded," said Tarpinian.

Twenty-nine of those families have kids currently going through cancer treatment.

"We put together little care packages for these families, and even though it seems like not much that we're doing, every single one of them has been so grateful when they come in," she said.

Jacob can tell how Candlelighters' support made a difference for his mom.

"Seeing my mom go through this, it looks like it helped her a lot," he said.

Candlelighters helps with the everyday emotional and practical support for families going through childhood cancer. They are asking for donations, monetarily to pay for hospital parking or gift cards to pay for groceries and meal passes in hospitals. To donate, click here.

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