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A Family’s Battle with Cancer

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By Lucy Lee | June 17, 2022 << Back to Articles A Family’s Battle with Cancer

A cancer diagnosis can put a heavy strain on the time, energy, and finances of patients and their families. While they struggle to keep up with the necessary care, routine tasks like home cleaning can fall by the wayside. That’s where Cleaning for a Reason steps in.

Cleaning for a Reason, partnering with residential cleaning companies, provides free home cleanings for cancer patients. This charity gave a sigh of relief to a pregnant mother and her husband as their 3-year-old son underwent chemotherapy.

Jamie Thompson was tickling her 3-year-old son Beckham one night when she noticed some whiteness in the back of his throat. She took Beckham to the pediatrician, who advised that it was likely a viral infection. However, after several days, Beckham’s throat still hurt. Thompson kept an eye on her son and brought him back to the doctor several times. The pediatrician prescribed antibiotics, but the mass at the back of his throat remained. When they returned to the pediatrician, they were immediately sent to the emergency room. The mass was covering 90% of Beckham’s airway.

Thompson, six months pregnant at the time, called her father, Neil Medwed to let him know that she and her husband were rushing Beckham to the children’s hospital for emergency surgery. Medwed booked flights from his home in Dallas, Texas, to be with his daughter’s family in Jacksonville, Florida, for the next morning.

The surgery successfully removed Beckham’s tonsils, adenoids, and the unknown mass. The doctors gave hope that the mass was likely benign, but that the surgeon would call later in the week with the biopsy results. When Thompson received the call, however, her face dropped. “Her knees shook, and tears started to flow,” said Medwed. “It was not the surgeon, but a cancer doctor who called.”

A family’s world turned upside down

The doctors diagnosed Beckham with Burkitt lymphoma and instructed the family to return to the hospital immediately. A CT scan found two additional tumors, one in his spleen and another in his abdomen. “This is when they started talking about chemo on a deeper level and described what that road map looked like,” said Thompson. Just two days later, Beckham underwent a spinal tap, an injection of chemotherapy, a bone marrow test, and an insertion of a central Broviac line to his heart.

The family was overjoyed when his bone marrow tests came back clear. Shortly after, his spinal tests came back negative. Now, it was time for Beckham to start four rounds of chemotherapy in 21-day increments.

“The doctors described the aggressive chemo protocol and told my daughter and son-in-law that they should plan on being in the hospital 24/7,” said Medwed. “If they have a day or two at home, they should cherish it because those would be few and far between.”

Persevering through treatment

Rules due to COVID-19 allowed only one parent to stay the night in the hospital. Thompson and her husband began a daily routine of 16 hours in the hospital, eight hours commuting home, showering, sleeping, and returning to the hospital again. “My three-year-old son’s life was taken from under him,” said Thompson. “I was no longer able to work because of the time I needed to be in the hospital.”

As a father and grandfather, Medwed witnessed how the treatment took over Thompson and her husband’s lives.

“The strength that they showed, the burden they handled, and the emotions flowing all over would have dropped many. But somehow, someway, they persevered,” said Medwed. “They took shifts to be there at all times with Beckham while working to keep income flowing.”

“The last thing on my mind was cleaning the house, even though Beckham needed to come home to a clean environment in between treatments,” Thompson explained. She needed a clean space to store and administer the medicines, flushes, and cleaning products used almost hourly when he was home. However, handling hospital shifts, commuting, work, and pregnancy left the couple with no time to clean. “Coming home to a clean house is life-changing when dealing with so many other issues,” added Thompson.

“I saw the pure exhaustion when my daughter and son-in-law walked into the house, and the tears they shed at home because they could not cry in front of my grandson,” Neil continued. “I also saw the tears of happiness in my daughter’s eyes when the call came in that Cleaning for a Reason was going to schedule dates to come clean their house.”

The importance of a clean home

Cleaning for a Reason partners with residential cleaning companies to provide free home cleanings to cancer patients. Any man, woman, or child undergoing treatment for cancer can apply to receive two house cleanings from a local cleaning service. It relieves the burden of cleaning for the patient and caregivers, while creating a safe environment for cancer treatment.

“This charity addresses something so vital to any cancer patient—the need to lower the risk of infection when a cancer patient is blessed to be at home,” added Medwed.

Not only does home cleaning support the patient’s well-being, but it also allows caregivers to focus on treatment when free time is scarce. “The best thing was having such a huge chore off of our back, so we could worry about what was most important in that moment,” explained Thompson. “That is, Beckham beating cancer and giving him the support he needed.”

Medwed saw how important this cleaning was for his daughter.

“I know how much of a relief it was for my daughter to come home from the hospital to a clean house,” said Medwed. “It allowed her to get the sleep she needed to go back to the hospital the next day.”

Supporting families in their time of need

Beckham was declared in remission in January 2022 following the four rounds of chemotherapy. “We will celebrate every day he walks this earth cancer-free,” said Thompson. Thompson gave birth to Brooks in November, just before Beckham’s final round of chemotherapy.

Cleaning for a Reason provides a sense of hope and relief for families battling cancer. “For some, it may mean that they are able to spend those last moments with a loved one,” said Thompson. “For others, it may mean that they can do something they love to add some joy in their life with the three hours they would have spent cleaning.”

“It’s so important to cancer families to know they have support,” added Thompson. “To everyone who has partnered with Cleaning for a Reason, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

To support Cleaning for a Reason, visit cleaningforareason.org


About the Author.

Lucy Lee is the program manager for Cleaning for a Reason. She can be reached at 469-645-1101 or[email protected].