By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE father of a 4-year-old child recently diagnosed with leukaemia, yesterday made a passionate appeal for the public’s help in settling more than $1 million in medical expenses for his daughter’s treatments.
Although doctor’s have found Zion’s condition to be in remission, her parents, Jason and Ancilla Knowles, will likely have to foot heavy costs that exceed their financial abilities.
“The expenses,” Mr Knowles said, “are unbelievable. The bill so far is not a final bill and it’s already over a million dollars. That’s mostly because of her stint in Miami Children’s Hospital’s ICU for three weeks. We have the insurance, but it doesn’t cover everything.
“So at some point that will be exhausted, depending on how much the insurance company decides to pay. Either way we’ll have a sizeable bill to cover on our own.”
The family’s journey with leukaemia, a cancer of the blood cells that can lead to other infections, began in May following a routine physical check-up in preparation for Zion’s first year in kindergarten. Mr Knowles said that before that Zion showed no symptoms of becoming gravely ill.
“We were referred back to paediatrician who found her liver and spine were enlarged so that prompted her to do additional blood tests, specifically looking for certain things,” he said.
Later on, Zion was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital for one week, but was then referred to the Miami Children’s Hospital where she has been treated since July 2nd.
“Since she’s been admitted she’s had a lot of ups and downs,” Mr Knowles said. “Initially in the first two weeks she developed pancreatitis as a result of one of the medications. That required her to stay in ICU where she was sedated for the entire period because there was a lot of pain involved.
“It resulted in her blood pressure being high, and her sugar being high. So throughout the entire ICU stint she was on about 10 different medications. She also started having seizures and is also on anti-seizure meds. Zion was also on a feeding tube, a stomach pump and on a respirator.”
The family has also suffered a divide as Mr Knowles has constantly had to travel to and from Miami as his wife stayed at the facility while doctors cared for Zion.
“She goes in for weekly visits for her chemo and she gets a spinal tap basically every week. Now she’s in the consolidation stage which involves a high dosage of chemo medication to fully eradicate the cancer cells.
“My wife is over there with her. She got a leave of absence. I travel back and forth. My employer has been working with me with giving me time to go over there and work here.”
Considering the circumstances, Mr Knowles said, Zion, who is now on seven medications, has shown incredible strength and a good knowledge of the ordeal.
“Although she is four she is very intelligent. Zion is aware and will tell you about leukaemia. She lost her hair already, but we told her about it, so she accepted it and is fine with her hair the way it is.”
Doctors, Mr Knowles said, expect Zion to make a full recovery.
The family now wants to use their experience with leukaemia to create a wider public awareness.
“Apart from just for our benefit, we really want to make the public aware of leukaemia because a lot of people hear about prostate and breast cancer, but there are so many different types of cancer. Leukaemia is one of those that is so romanticised, that you only see it in movies, but not many people know about it.”
A cook-out in aid of Zion will be held on October 6. Persons requiring more information can email Jason Knowles at email@example.com.