Vargas Family Navigates Care for Child with Cancer during COVID-19

Source: Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation

Just imagine having a child with cancer during this COVID-19 crisis–a pandemic that is leading to job loss or insecurity, financial hardship, mounting health concerns, and an overworked and exhausted health care community. 

COVID-19 is creating even greater challenges for local families battling childhood cancer. Many of these families have lost their jobs and are no longer able to buy food and clothing for their families or pay rent or medical expenses including critical prescriptions. Several of these families have also had a family member contract COVID-19 as well, which is very concerning considering that they are caring for an immune-compromised child.  

During this challenging time, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF) has been providing even more services for families, including money for rent assistance, grocery gift cards, additional emotional support groups with licensed therapists, virtual and in-person tutoring, meal and care package delivery, and virtual family fun events to keep their kids engaged. Community support has made it possible for TBCF to provide additional financial assistance to 31 local families who have been severely affected by the pandemic.

This includes the Vargas family from Santa Barbara: 

When Eli was only 4 years old, his family noticed he was experiencing frequent neck pain. After going back to the doctor for a third time, the Vargas Family pediatrician realized it could be something more serious and ordered two MRI’s – one for Eli’s brain and one for his cervical spine. 

After receiving the results of his MRI, the family went down to LA and was shown a picture indicating it was a cancerous tumor. Eli’s great grandpa had died from Stage 4 brain cancer so their family was understandably concerned. Eli is now 8 years old and is still going through his battle. He does physical therapy at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital every month and drives to LA for his MRI’s every six months.

Since day one of Eli’s diagnosis, TBCF has been with the Vargas family along the way. Since Eli’s social worker put his family in touch with TBCF, the Vargas family has received Direct Financial Assistance, attended TBCF Support Groups, Family Connection Events (both in person and virtually), received Project Holiday gifts, attended their annual Holiday Party, attended Fundraising events such as the 2019 Gold Ribbon Luncheon, and is in the process of applying for TBCF’s Tutoring and Neuropsychological Testing through their Educational Advocacy Program. 

“The support groups have been amazing. I’ve made friends through the TBCF support groups with other moms going through the same thing,” said Amanda, Eli’s mom. “The support groups have changed our whole family’s lives and how we deal with Eli’s diagnosis. We don’t feel as alone – When we first received the diagnosis, we had nobody who felt the same way we did, or truly understood how much we were hurting until we met other parents at TBCF’s Support Groups” 

TBCF will be hosting their annual Gold Ribbon Campaign throughout the month of September to raise funds during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the annual in-person Gold Ribbon Luncheon at the Four Seasons Biltmore has been cancelled, which is a major source of funding for the nonprofit. This year, the Campaign is solely focused on raising funds and awareness for the organization and the families they serve. 

Through donations and continued support, TBCF can help more families like the Vargas family. 

To be a part of TBCF’s Gold Ribbon Campaign for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, please visit TBCF at:  

About TBCF    

TBCF advocates for families living in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties that have a child with cancer by providing financial, educational, and emotional support. For more information and to donate, please visit: 


Written by Anonymous

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