Veterans Pay for Another Veteran's 6 Year Old's Cancer Treatments
with Jeff and Amy Kyle
American Valor Foundation
It’s safe to say that January 27th, 2017 was the worst day of our lives. That was the day that we learned our 6 year old little girl had cancer. Nobody thinks about getting news like that. Nobody prepares themselves for that moment the doctor walks in the door with an ashen face and uses words like “growth”, “malignant”, and “tumors”. We started the day at the pediatrician for a stomach ache that wouldn’t go away and we ended it in a children’s hospital with cancer.
Of course there is a period of initial shock and just trying to grasp the enormity of how life would immediately change for our little girl, PJ, and our family. But pretty quickly after that, both my wife and I started coming up with the battle plan on how we were going to get through this together and help PJ win the biggest fight of her life. Luckily both my wife, Melanie, and I had a background of military service as officers in the US Air Force. For almost ten years we balanced family life and military missions. We made it through the deployments, the 18 hour days, and all of the other sacrifices that come along with military service. But from that we both garnered a “mission first” attitude that would serve our family well during the past year. Early on we spoke to our two other children about our mission of helping PJ beat cancer and how we were going to do it together. Soon our family would learn what it means to sacrifice for one another.
But there were moments of doubt too. As the days turned into weeks, I wondered how in the world we were going to pay for all of the tests, the scans, the seemingly never-ending hospital stays. Not to mention the extra cost of all the driving back and forth, the store-bought meals because we weren’t home to cook, and the “hidden” costs that come along with a diagnosis and treatment like this. My wife and I had to take time off from our jobs, so working extra OT wasn’t an option early on and I had begun to come up with some long term actions we could take once the medical bills started rolling in. Sell one of our cars, get rid of all nonessential comfort expenses, sell the house and move into an apartment. They all crossed my mind.
Then we were contacted by Jeff and Amy Kyle who asked if they could meet with us about an idea they had with the American Valor Foundation. I had met Jeff once or twice over the years, but I wouldn’t say that we knew each other all that well. We hosted the Kyle’s over our house for dinner and they got to meet PJ, who by that point was already very sick with side effects of chemotherapy, and we learned that the American Valor Foundation was going to donate the proceeds from some fundraisers to our family. So whenever the medical bills came in, we could just send them to AVF and the bills would be taken care of. I cannot express how much of a blessing this was and how much peace of mind this brought me during the darkest days of my life. But now that I know the Kyle’s and how selfless they are, I am not surprised in the least. Those of us who served with dusty boots remember well picking up a buddy when he or she was down. We remember the struggles and challenges we had to face once we were home and leaning on our spouses and family to carry us when we needed. It’s part of the “Mission First” attitude that we will all carry for the rest of our lives. This is also how Jeff, Amy, the Kyle Family, and the American Valor Foundation continue to serve others.
Eventually the medical bills changed from a waterfall to a trickle. With the help of the American Valor Foundation, we had weathered the storm and did not have to sell our home. This past August, doctors told us that the treatment and surgery were successful and PJ was in remission. The war is not won, we still have scans and specialists visits of every sort, but nothing that we can’t handle. Our community, our school district, our family, friends, and neighbors all rallied and pitched in to help us when we needed it most. American Valor Foundation and the Kyle family were a big part of helping us carry on. We can never repay their love, except to pitch in when called upon to help the next brother or sister who has fallen and needs some help to get up.