Legal Assistant Faces Eviction While Son Battles Leukemia

When I read about Vanessa Gonzalez’ plight in the Sun Sentinel, I remembered a favorite quote from a paralegal I profiled here recently, “If we threw all our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”

Gonzalez had to quit her job as a legal assistant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to care for her three-year old son, Jose, who is frequently hospitalized while he battles Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, now currently in remission. She told the Sun Sentinel, “I can’t leave him alone. He’s my life. He’s my job.”

Then earlier this year, Gonzalez came home from the hospital to find an eviction notice on the door of the home that she and her estranged husband had been renting since 2009. Like many other tenants in this recessionary economy, Gonzalez was a helpless victim of foreclosure, after the landlord stopped making the mortgage payments.

Gonzalez talked to the bank’s attorney, and bought her family some time and a reduced rent until September 1, when she has to find a new home suitable for a child with a fragile immune system. She credits the staff at Broward General Medical Center for providing an incredible support system, but this observation from the reporter who visited Gonazalez and her son at the hospital emphasizes how hard living this experience really is:

The only thing worse than hearing Jose’s sobs was hearing the cries of the other kids who had nobody at their side. Kids alone, abandoned by parents and relatives.

As the mom of a chronically ill child, I’ve seen that scenario firsthand, parents receiving the news in hospital hallways that they were fired because they stayed with a child fighting cancer, as well as children fighting cancer and other debilitating diseases, without parents that were trying to keep their jobs to maintain health insurance and the family home, or that buckled under the incredible pressure and bolted – sometimes temporarily, or sometimes longer.

So now I’m thinking that my stressful day is not nearly as stressful as some of your days, or as Vanessa’s. And I’m so glad that her son’s cancer is in remission. But she’s still facing incredible pressures:

…[she] doesn’t know what she’ll do come September. She doesn’t have money to cover the first month, last month and security deposit required by most landlords. She’d go to a homeless shelter, but she said a group setting is no place for Jose’s fragile immune system. She’s hoping somebody might cut her a break until Jose’s treatments are finished and she can return to work.

And yes, I’m also hoping that some legal professionals in the Fort Lauderdale area will read this post, and maybe be in a position to help Vanessa get that break she so desperately needs.

Source:  Sun Sentinal

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