Women’s Group Helps Mom of Cancer-Stricken Baby
OAKHURST – Glasses will be raised and tears shed over a shared story as mountain area women are invited to attend a Helping One Woman (H.O.W.) dinner and fundraiser at the Queen’s Inn Wine Bar on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m.
H.O.W. is a nonprofit woman’s organization that meets monthly for an uplifting evening in honor of one deserving woman who receives the community’s support in a time of need or loss.
Each guest donates $10 and after dinner the pooled money is gifted to the honoree. Another woman is then chosen, from written suggestions of the guests, for the next month’s dinner.
Jackie Cornell, 26, is the H.O.W. guest of honor this month. Her youngest daughter, 2-year-old Carma, was diagnosed with a tumor on her spinal cord on Aug. 17.
“It’s a roller coaster,” says Jackie. “We take it day by day. Carma doesn’t know why she’s sick or why she hurts.”
The young mom says she suspected her daughter had a serious medical issue, despite reassurance from their former pediatrician that Carma was simply slow to develop milestone skills like crawling and walking. The baby never achieved those milestones others take for granted, and now Jackie knows why.
Carma undergoes weekly chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital Central California in Fresno to quell the aggressive cancer.
“Right now the neurology team can’t decipher between the tumor and her spinal cord,” Jackie explains.
Doctors say surgery is impossible right now. Chemotherapy is expected to go on for 12 months if the tumor responds to treatment. Jackie says they won’t know for several weeks.
Undergoing chemo, Carma suffers from frequent vomiting and has nearly unbearable headaches that make her scream in pain. Her appetite is gone and sleeping is often out of the question. She spends many long days and nights in the hospital between treatments.
“Carma is agitated and irritable. The family does whatever we can to keep her as comfortable as possible and we try to maintain the best possible positive attitude,” Jackie reports.
Jackie and husband, Matt, married in 2007. They are also parents of 4-year-old Dejea. Dejea knows her little sister is very sick and tries to be understanding, Jackie says.
Matt, 28, works at Willow Garden Nursery in Clovis. While the Cornell family has no private insurance, they have become eligible for state medical coverage. Their current responsibility for Carma’s ongoing treatment is already more than $10,000 and expected to rise considerably.
The H.O.W. meal slated for the Queen’s Inn Wine Bar is catered by The Produce Place. Women planning to attend should call The Produce Place directly at 559-641-6167 to reserve a meal.
H.O.W welcomes new members. For more information about H.O.W., visit HOW Oakhurst on Facebook.