ROCHESTER — Julie Plaisted recalls the worst night of her life like it was yesterday. Sitting in a hospital room, Plaisted and her family were trying to get some sleep after a long day when her 3-year-old daughter, Skye, started convulsing in her arms. Nurses and doctors swarmed into the room and took her to the intensive care unit, where it took the entire night to get her stable again.
Earlier that day, which had been the day after Easter in April, Plaisted, a stay-at-home mother, had taken Skye to the pediatrician for an abnormal-looking bruise. She said she looked pediatrician concerned after feeling Skye’s spleen and ordered blood work at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover. After waiting for blood work to come back, Skye was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells.
“All you can vision is your child bald, bony and hooked up to chemo in one of those chairs. You question yourself as a parent, especially as a mother. ‘Did I do something to cause it? Why didn’t I get her to the doctor sooner?’” Plaisted said.
That night Julie Plaisted and her husband, Mike, took Skye to Boston Children’s Hospital, leaving their older daughter, Josie, 6, with grandparents. Right as they checked into the oncology department and got to their room, Julie Plaisted could recall every detail of that stressful night, she said.
It has been a few months since Skye started treatment, and although the family is still taking weekly trips to the children’s hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, also in Boston, Skye’s cancer is in remission. Medical treatment is extremely expensive, however, Julie said. She says that even though they have good insurance, you can never be prepared for this type of expense. Mike Plaisted took six weeks off from work once Skye’s treatment began.
“I think after a while you kind of stop asking yourself why this happened to your kid, to your family. You just have to get through it because that is literally all you have strength for,” Julie said. Despite her illness, however, Skye is still a bubbly little girl, which helps everyone stay a little more positive, she said.
Plaisted and her family were utilizing all the resources they could, including a GoFundMe account, for Skye’s medical expenses. She is grateful the hospital has so many resources for Skye. “They want to help us any way they can,” she said.
For more financial help, Plaisted was advised to apply Cops for Kids with Cancer, a nonprofit that is organized by current and former police officers to help families with children battling cancer. She applied, but wasn’t expecting much to come out of it, she said.
Cops for Kids with Cancer helps kids all over the country with donations to help with the expenses related to getting the child the care that they need. Recently, they contacted the Plaisted family to inform them they were to be awarded a $5,000 donation through the Rochester Police Department.
This is the first family Rochester police have had the pleasure of working with through Cops for Kids with Cancer, according to Capt. Todd Pinkham. Miller Thomas from Cops for Kids with Cancer, along with members of the department, on Sept. 30 presented the Plaisted family with the donation check, as well as a variety of gifts for Skye, including a special teddy bear.
Julie said the donation has helped bring the family back to a place where the financial stress has eased. “We’re one small family in this big world, so this means a lot to us. It’s inspiring and makes you feel like you want to make a difference.”
Story By Alison Eagan firstname.lastname@example.org