Te Puke parents of child with cancer struggling financially

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When Cathy and Steven Dale's 2-year-old son Joshua was diagnosed with leukemia their world was turned upside down.

More than two years into Joshua's three and a half years of treatment and the financial burden is beginning to take its toll on the Te Puke family.

Joshua, now 4, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on April 1, 2014, just weeks after his little sister Rosalie was born.

The Dales went down to one income after mother Cathy left her job to take care of her son, who needed fulltime care.

Joshua Dale plays at home, amid treatment for cancer. Photo/Andrew Warner
Joshua Dale plays at home, amid treatment for cancer. Photo/Andrew Warner

Putting one foot in front of the other, getting through endless blood transfusions, hospital visits and chemotherapy had been the priority but the family was struggling financially.

They started up a Givealittle page for "Team Joshua" asking the community for help as they faced a "mountain of bills".

The money would help them get on top of the bills and "maybe give the kids an average Christmas".

Having a child with a serious illness was emotionally draining and the financial burden was an added stress.

"It's little bits and pieces that all add up," said Mr Dale, like a tree that fell down in the last storm, handrails not up to code, and fencing around the house so their kids could run around.

Mrs Dale said: "It's things you wouldn't normally think were outside your budget. When you're both working you don't think much of it, it's amazing how much difference losing an income makes."

Mr Dale said: "Cathy needs a break but we can't afford to send her away. She's stuck with this 24/7. I don't think a day goes by that she doesn't want to have a cry."

Joshua was past the most intensive phase of his treatment but he still needed daily oral chemo, monthly intravenous chemo, and an injection of chemo into his spinal fluid which required a trip to Starship hospital in Auckland every three months.

For the past four weeks he had been stuck at home, taking a dose of antiviral five times a day after being exposed to chicken pox.

He also needed a five-day course of steroids monthly.

"When he's on steroids all he wants to eat are homemade chicken pies - he'll eat four for breakfast. Cathy just had to go buy 3kg of chicken for them," Mr Dale said.

Since July, when the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend wrote about the Dale family, Joshua has added more than 100 new beads to his Beads of Courage necklace. Now he has 900 beads, each representing a poke with a needle, a blood transfusion or chemotherapy.

Mrs Dale said it had been getting harder on Joshua, as they neared the home stretch of his treatment.

"He's getting older so he's becoming more aware about what's going on. He's starting to ask 'why me, why am I sick'."

Anyone who can help the Dale family please visit their Givealittle page at https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/helpforjoshuasleukemiajourney.

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