Lincoln Evening Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska - 24Jan1975 - Page 9
For Leukemic Children Parents Buying Time, Hoping By Betty Stevens “I'm always tired and I’m always worried, Jim McGrath said. “Research is the only answer and our only source of hope," Sherry Hermida said. The McGraths, 345 West Butler, and the Hermidas, 2440 Washington, each have a child with leukemia. Angela Hermida. 4%, has been known to have the disease for eight months. Rueben McGrath, 5, has had it for two years. Both children are patients of Dr. Rashid A. Al-Rashid, Director of Pediatrics, Hematology and Oncology at the Cancer Research Center at the University of Nebraska Medical School in Omaha. When each of the children started Al-Rashid s three-vear chemotherapy program, each was given a 50-50 chance of surviving surviving tor three years. A Relapse Rueben’s chances were blown last August when he suffered a relapse. “We just know now it’s going to be a struggle,” McGrath said. In addition to the twice-monthly trips to Omaha, both children receive intravenous in their Lincoln doctor's offices three times each week. If the blood test reveals a dangerously low blood count, it means another trip to Omaha. Rueben will need a spinal type even, other day in Omaha next week. Since his relapse Rueben musi have a bone marrow injection in his spine every three months. “Mhat really hurts,” McGrath said, “is of the 25 children who started the three-year program with Rueben, only two or three are left.” Leukemia is a disease of the blood-forming organs It is a disease that takes the lives of more children than any other, and one that strikbs more adults than children. The systems of white blood cells are concerned with fighting infection. In the leukemic patient the overproduction of abnormal white cells disrupts the production of red blood cells and interferes with oxygen transport and clotting In addition, these abnormal white cells are unable to fight infection Extra Safeguards So when the brothers and sisters of a leukemia victim get the measles or flu or even colds, they must go to grandmother's house throughout their illness and recuperation so they don’t infect infect the leukemic sibling. When you have a child with leukemia, you just never get away from it, Mrs. Hermida said. If you’re not worrying every minute about what’s happening to the patient’s blood count, you are worrying about what the stress is doing to the rest of the family. Or you are worrying about what will happen if gas is rationed, and even a 55 m.p.h. speed limit becomes a real barrier when you have to go to Omaha as often as we do, McGrath said. While 80% of the McGraths’ and Hermidas' medical expenses are covered by insurance and the rest covered by the Crippled Children's Society, there is a great amount of expenses that must be met from out of the families' pocket. McGrath lost $3,000 in wages last year and drove 20,000 miles transporting Rueben to the Omaha Cancer Research Center. And there are things to buy like distilled drinking water and foods tor a special diet. Raising Money That’s why the two couples are trying to raise $3,000 to give ■jxCinrnln Journal P eople 10 Friday, January 24, 1975 Rueben McGrath and Angela Hermida are “very special children,” according to their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jim McGrath and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hermida. to the Leukemia Society of America Inc., 211 East 43rd, New York, N Y. They are doing it by going door-to-door, collecting at shopping shopping centers, pop bottle sales, bake sales, and through radio appeals. The First Lutheran Church, where the Hermidas have their membership is helping “but I don't know what yet,” Mrs. Hermida said. The fund is being received by Union Bank, 3643 So. 48th. It is to be a part of monies collected in a national radio-thon to be held Feb 8 and 9. While the radio-thon is not expected to be broadcast in this location. Mrs. Hermida said she hoped the fund-raising effort would generate enough interest to start a Nebraska Chapter of the society. The radio-thon monies will be used for research. A total of 106 scientists supported by the Leukemia Society are working to find a cure for the disease. And that's the source of the Hermidas’ and McGraths' hope. They are trying to buy time because you never know — tomorrow, or maybe next week — one of those scientists may find a cure for leukemia.