Group Provides Vital Help for Sick Bridgewater Girl

By Amy Carboneau, The Enterprise News. Photo by Marc Vasconcellos.

Never shy, 9-year-old Nevaeh Cole walked into the police station Friday, took Chief Chris Delmonte by the hand and marched him down his own hallway. The half-pint who weighs no more than 65 pounds even barked out a few orders before she left.

With so much energy, there was no sign, at least on the outside, that anything was wrong. She was having a good day.

But Nevaeh, a third-grader at Mitchell Elementary School, has cancer.

And while there’s no silver lining, a nonprofit group known as Cops For Kids With Cancer visited the Bridgewater police station Friday with a check for $5,000 to hand to Nevaeh’s mom, Stephanie.

For Stephanie Cole, a 27-year-old single mother with her hands full, the money came at the perfect time.

Cole and her two daughters, Nevaeh, 9, and Hailey, 10, were evicted from their Bridgewater apartment after Cole said her landlord failed to fix up the property, even though her daughter couldn’t live in it under the current conditions.

Despite the circumstances, Cole was upbeat and grateful for the help.

“It’s just good to know that there’s a lot of people out there that are willing to help out people in need. I mean, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Cole said, “My own mother even said we couldn’t stay with her.”

It is not uncommon, said Bob Faherty, for families who have a child with cancer to get into “deep, deep financial straights,” because one parent quits his or her job to stay home, the family takes on more expenses but with half the income and things snowball from there.

“We found that anything less than $5,000 doesn’t really help,” he added.

Bob Faherty is a retired superintendent in chief of the Boston Police Department, who now serves as chairman of the Braintree-based nonprofit, which is run from his home.

It took the group several years to start bringing in enough money to give to families directly. But what started as handing out checks to 10 families in 2008 grew to 56 families last year.

And this year, Faherty said he plans to help 60 families or more throughout New England.

In addition, the group, whose board of directors is made up of active and retired police officers, donates $10,000 annually each to the Massachusetts General pediatrics oncology unit and the Floating Hospital for Children at Tuft’s Medical.

Friday morning in Bridgewater, Faherty handed teddy bears and T-shirts to Nevaeh and her sister, Hailey.

Hailey, although only 11 months older than Nevaeh, has served as co-parent for her sister since she was diagnosed at 15 months of age with Wilms’ tumor – a cancer of the kidneys.

“They fight all the time,” Cole jokes. “But if Nevaeh is sick, she’s right by her side.”

Nevaeh, whose name is “heaven” backwards, is now off treatments.

For a while, Cole learned how to do home infusions, how to give her daughter shots, because after years of daily trips to the hospital, they both had finally had enough.

“She finally told me, ‘Mommy, I don’t want to go to the hospital anymore,'” Cole said.

It was no quality of life, she said.

Now, her daughter – who loves to sing, knows every song on the radio and wants to be a mommy herself some day – is able to learn things at the same pace as other children her age. She can attend school full-time. She can play with friends.

And although her cancer continues to grow, it’s growing slowly, her mom says.

So for now, the little blonde spitfire, who doesn’t appear to be afraid of anything, can enjoy childhood.