Before November 2012, my sister, Melissa Fernandez, was an amazing mom of three kids (ages 3, 4, and 11), a committed childcare provider at a daycare facility in Northern Virginia, and a marathon runner. Just before Thanksgiving last year, we received the devastating news that what Melissa initially thought was a slow post-race recovery (perhaps her age starting to show, although she was only 35 years old) turned out to be acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Although she has fought with great strength and determination over the last 8 months, Melissa was recently told by her doctors that there is nothing more that can be done for her. Within days or more hopefully weeks, Melissa will tragically die of this horrible disease. I’m raising money so that Melissa will be able to have one last visit with her children to say good-bye. Allow me to explain…
Melissa started chemo in November 2012 just before Thanksgiving. Melissa’s health insurance is provided by her husband, Nelson’s, job at Avis in Virginia (Nelson is also a volunteer firefighter). In order to maintain this job and the insurance, Nelson has had to continue working long hours. Initially, Nelson’s mother came from the Dominican Republic to help care for Melissa and Nelson’s children. Unfortunately, despite being strong and healthy before she was diagnosed, Melissa’s body did not react well to the chemo. Just before Christmas, Melissa suffered a stroke that doctors said was due to her low white blood cells brought on by the leukemia and chemo. Even worse, she then developed sepsis (severe bacterial infection) that has left her face and upper body disfigured. When it became clear that her recovery would take considerable time, Nelson made the painful decision to break up the family.
Fabianna (now age 4) and Francessca (now age 5) were sent to stay with their grandmother in the Dominican Republic, where they have been since before Christmas. Fabrizio (now age 12) had been staying with me (a home daycare provider) in Ellicott City, Maryland during the school year, but had returned to Peru (where Melissa and I grew up) to visit family for the summer. Our small family (all Americans working hard to provide for our children and families) does not have much money, so these plane tickets were purchased with considerable effort and with the sole intent of making sure the children could be with loving family and temporarily away from the immediate hardship that Melissa was facing. The hope was always that this arrangement would be temporary. Melissa has not left the hospital since last November, and I have watched her physically aching to hold her kids for the past 8 months. And I’ve watched her fight hard to recover for them.
Unfortunately, Melissa’s condition is deteriorating and she would desperately like to say good-bye to her children. We are raising funds to cover the cost of Melissa’s children’s airfare, parting gifts for Melissa to give her children, and contribute to a proper funeral and resting place for Melissa. Any extra funds raised will be used solely to provide direct care for Melissa’s children.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for considering this request!
(along with my husband Jose Luis Chavez and our two daughters)