Life’s Angels 2019 Beneficiaries
The Lombardo Family Jennifer, 38 years old has not spoken with her dad since she was abused at age 7. Her mom is very self-centered and provides little to no support emotionally or financially. The biological dad of her first son left two years ago to Colorado and has no contact whatsoever with their son Ben.
Ben is 14 years old in 8th grade in a Special Education program. Ben just completed his 6th hospital admission. He is now in an outpatient program 5 days a week from 11am – 7pm for psychotherapy. Ben also has Pica, an eating disorder.
Jennifer and Anthony have been married for 9 years. Anthony is 10 years older than Jennifer and he is employed as the catering manager at the Long Island Aquarium. This is their sole source of income. Jennifer was a LPN for 12 years at Brookhaven Hospital, but stopped 2 years ago to take care of her children full time. Anthony’s parents are in their 70s and can’t physically help with the children.
The following are Jennifer and Anthony’s biological children:
JJ is 10 years old in 5th grade. He has ADHD and Bipolar disorder. He is enrolled in a special program called 8-1-1, eight children, one teacher one aide. JJ was admitted last year for a psychiatric hospital stay. Jennifer and Anthony have a caseworker in their house one day a week to help with JJ.
Aidan is 8 years old in 3rd grade. He is autistic with limited verbal skills and a sensory processing disorder. He has not had his hair cut in 10 months either at a barber or even in the house as it is too painful for him. Aiden needs feeding therapy for his nutrition.
Alex is 6 years old in 1st grade. He has juvenile arthritis and osteomyelitis which an uncurable, lifelong condition. Alex is always in great physical pain. He has lab work every month for bone marrow aspirations (very big needles). Alex is also anemic. He is under the care of a rheumatologist and oncologist.
Dina L. On September 9, 2018 Dina, age 54 fell down the stairs in her Merrick home where she has lived all her life, and suffered a massive brain injury. She also suffered a stroke. She needed to undergo emergency brain surgery, craniectomy, and then a second operation a cranioplasty. The shunt now in her brain helps with the leaking fluid. Dina, who lived with her husband now resides a Brain Rehabilitation Center in Queens. She was admitted in October and was told she will be there for minimum of six months. She still has expressive aphasia on her entire right side of her body from her face to her toes. She has improved to only 25 % of speech, but even that is jumbled.
Her husband Ralph, children Marie and Joseph, parents Mary and Bill, siblings Mark and Billy, as well as countless friends and neighbors visit her daily. There is always someone at Dina’s bedside to show love and support during this time. Prior to her injury Dina was a pillar of her community always lending a helping hand including daily visits to a 98 year old dementia patient.
The family expects massive medical bills that are not covered by their insurance and they have just started to come in this month. They are not in a position to estimate the level of care Dina will need between therapy, in -home aide, whenever Dina is able to return home, and other associated costs given the extent of her injury.
Allyson Bryant At age 6 Allyson was diagnosed with leukemia and had multiple chemo treatments. Unfortunately, her immune system did not regenerate after the treatments. Allyson was a dancer and had dreams of being on Broadway. She actually performed in local and regional theater . . . in either a wheelchair or a walker. In her early teens she noticed that she was tripping on her own feet and they were dragging. Her parents not only did not support her, they seemed oblivious to her situation. It was a school nurse that noticed her condition, multiple sclerosis. The early chemo prevented the “usual medications” from working so Allyson began experimental treatment. Botox and Baclofen were shot in her legs which worked, temporarily. Allyson returned to the walker.
Allyson is now 28 years old and lives alone. Her parents who are in their 70s and living in Tennessee provide neither emotional nor financial support. Allyson cannot work given her condition. She was finally approved for special housing this last October after an extremely long waitlist requiring her to live in very challenging and non-accessible residences. Her total income is limited to SSI, as well as Medicare/Medicaid and food stamps. Her current outstanding medical bills she estimates at $25,000, and growing.
Given the Medicare restrictions Allyson can only receive therapy and PT once a week. To supplement her exercise, she is part of a MS Swim Program at the JCC. To supplement that she spends each day at home stretching to the extent she can. Given the Medicare restrictions on her medication is why she is utilizing experimental alternative treatments. She is currently receiving chemo that causes her fatigue, bladder and muscle weakness, and dimming eyesight.
Allyson does have a special car that she can drive with modified controls. Given her limited income, she cannot afford new tires that she needs, and she must very carefully budget between, food, gas and medication. She is using a food pantry to supplement her nutrition. Her days are spent going to doctors, therapy, swim and reading.
Allyson has a wonderful outlook on her life. She volunteers when she can at MS support groups for young adults who can relate to her, rather than older people. She tells them what she knows “that MS will not kill you, but it will make your life a living hell”.
Life’s Angels 2018 Beneficiaries
Lillian, the youngest of 17 children was given away at 3 days old to her elderly aunt and uncle. While in the 4th grade she was molested by a school bus driver. At 13 she attempted suicide. While in a mental hospital she became pregnant with her daughter, and then was the victim of domestic violence. When her son was in 2nd grade, he became the victim of sexual abuse at school. Lillian still suffers from depression but is doing her best as a single mother trying to support her son with behavior problems and her daughter with celiac disease. She went to school and is employed as a medical assistant, but recently had to take off as she underwent surgery after the discovery of precancerous cells.
Several years ago, Rob woke up in the middle of the night, fell on the floor and was paralyzed from the waist down. He had surgery and learned to walk again, until last year. He noticed a small cut on his foot. It became infected. Despite many hospital trips and intravenous drips, due to his diabetes, the bone became infected and his leg needed to be amputated below the knee. This meant he was wheelchair bound just as his 32 year old special needs daughter who lives with him and his wife. Seven days after their daughter’s birth she developed a high fever and was diagnosed with a rare form of bacterial meningitis. Kristina has undergone, brain, stomach and other surgeries. Rob has recently been approved for a prosthetic leg, however it will be a long time before he can regain the physical strength to care for himself and his daughter.
Chris is a 17 year old high school senior who was diagnosed in 2002 with Tri Lateral Retinal Blastoma. At that time he had 5 tumors in his eyes and one in his Pituitary gland. He came through that journey after multiple rounds of chemotherapy. In 2017 Chris had a relapse and that time he was diagnosed with Osteo Sarcoma a tumor in his Left Femur and he went through 7 rounds of chemo therapy. A few weeks ago he was admitted to NYU Langone and had an operation removing the tumor in his leg and doing a distal flap on his femur taking bone as I understand it from his fibula.He is now in the hospital facing another 11 rounds of chemo over the next 4 months. This wonderful family is struggling to hold it all together. Mom and Dad work. Dad is at the hospital the most and his current position with the police department is allowing him a flexible work schedule. Chris loves cars, loves car shows and is a real techy kid. This weekend has hit him hard and he is struggling to understand why?