Every day, Harrisburg resident Maggie Laskowski encounters parents struggling with financial and emotional burdens due to their child’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.Now she’s doing something about it.As parents of five-year-old son Jackson – who has been enduring treatments for Stage IV cancer of the liver for the past two and a half years – Maggie and husband, Michael, share the pain, the disruption to budget and household routine, and fear of losing a child – sharpened by their memory of the Jackson’s older brother, Nicholas, who died in infancy.Maggie has been struck by the stories of parents she befriended while with Jackson during procedures at Levine Children’s Hospital. She and Michael know firsthand about the limits of health insurance and how nearly impossible it is for both parents to continue working full-time during a series of hospital stays and outpatient treatments.The National Children’s Cancer Society says “over 89 percent of families surveyed recently reported income loss due to their child’s diagnosis. Parents are further challenged with maintaining their household, caring for other children, making medical decisions and ensuring financial stability all while trying to stay beside their child through this difficult time.”Courageous, dedicated people across the globe have launched initiatives to help with expenses for families afflicted by a serious and chronic health condition.Maggie, 46, and Michael, 52, are among those.They were initially driven by their need to raise money to help cover expenses associated with a liver transplant for Jackson and other expenses in 2010. Then the Laskowskis created the Jackson Laskowski Keep HOPE Alive Fund.They soon expanded the mission to include financial assistance to families in a similar situation. An annual gala is a key fundraising event.“Most people work their entire life to save money for retirement, for their children’s college education, for their dream home, and even for the possibility of that rainy day when they may need a little extra money to help get them by,” Maggie said. “Well, cancer is not just a rainy day, cancer is like a devastating hurricane – one that you do not see coming, one that you are not prepared for, and one where all you can do is stand in the center of it, pray that you will survive it – and when the winds finally settle, you are left looking out and seeing all that you have lost.”2012 GalaThe Jackson Laskowski Keep HOPE Alive Gala is scheduled for Sept. 28 at the Oasis Shrine in Charlotte.It’s open the public and tickets are $50. There will be dinner, dancing and auctions. Musical entertainment will be by rock band Joey Bishop & THE NEWZ.The majority of the proceeds will be distributed by Levine Children’s Hospital to families whose children are in the pediatric oncology clinic to help cover financial needs. “After last year’s gala, we donated $20,000 to Levine’s. Plus we assisted other families by paying past due rents or mortgages, utility bills, car repairs, travel expenses to allow a family to go out of state for a second opinion. And sadly, we even assisted with funeral costs for a family that did not have insurance on their child,” Maggie said.She said she feels fortunate to have received an impressive outpouring of support over the last two years and is striving for stronger gains. “Although our journey has been very stressful, I am blessed to have experienced such heartfelt support from friends and many strangers. “It’s amazing to experience such generosity and kindness from so many people we do not even know – and very humbling.” she said.Following his cancer diagnosis, Jackson endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy each year plus two surgeries to remove masses on his lungs and a transplant operation where he received a new liver. He is in remission and enjoying life with friends and family at home. “It’s amazing how resilient he is, he’s the strongest person I know.” Maggie said.The family’s story can be found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/jacksonlaskowski.
Friday, Aug. 17, 2012
Parents create gala to help other families
Son’s struggle with cancer prompts action
Want to help? To assist, sponsor, donate a raffle item or attend the Sept. 28 Keep HOPE Alive Gala, visit www.jacksonlaskowski.com. Event raffle items or other donations can be mailed to Keep HOPE Alive Gala Committee member Kathy Sims, 7720 Windsor Forest Place, Harrisburg, N.C. 28075 If you can provide any type of help, send an email to: email@example.com. Monetary donations can be made out to Jackson Laskowski with Keep HOPE Alive Fund in the memo section of the check. Mail to Maggie Laskowski, 5020 Flagstone Court, Harrisburg, N.C. 28075