Impact of Covid-19 on Local Childhood Cancer Families

April 2020

The Covid-19 crisis has become the greatest healthcare challenge in modern history. As the number of people infected increases across the U.S., childhood cancer patients and their families are suddenly facing new challenges to an already devastating disease.

First and foremost, cancer patients are among those at the highest risk of effectively fighting a virus. They face the possibility of serious illness and complications compared to someone who is healthy because of weakened immune systems from treatment. The majority of families who have a child in treatment for cancer are on high alert and experiencing a surge of stress and fear for their child’s life.

Childhood cancer does not stop for Covid-19 and patients still need treatment. Doctors and patients are facing the difficult challenge of evaluating the risk of missing treatment against the possible exposure to the virus. If it is decided that treatment is necessary, families must leave the safety of their home and travel to hospitals and clinics. Travel has become increasingly difficult and can heighten the risk of exposure. With airline flights not an option at this time, some northern Nevada families are driving up to 10 hours, one way, to receive the specialty care necessary for their treatment.

If accommodations are needed while traveling for treatment, families have been struggling to find safe and affordable alternatives as many locations of Ronald McDonald Houses and hotels are closed due to the pandemic. Once patients are at the hospital, social activities and programs have been canceled and they are facing strict isolation and loneliness. Most hospitals are only allowing one support person to accompany each patient, so families are facing the difficult decision of who will stay with the child.

In northern Nevada, the economic strains families are facing due to Covid-19 is extremely high. Many families we serve are out of work due to the closures of casinos, bars, restaurants and other tourism fed industries. We have seen a drastic increase in requests for assistance with groceries, utilities, rents and mortgages.

NNCCF is also facing a severe decrease in donations due to the economic impact and stay at home order. In just one month, two of our most successful community partner fundraising events were canceled resulting in a $100,000 loss to the organization. With the uncertainty of the future, it is probable that more fundraising events will be forced to cancel and the organization’s revenue will be greatly reduced.