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New facility makes cancer treatment easier for kids

Joy Wang
July 15, 2017 07:01 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Being a child diagnosed with cancer is hard enough, but being away from your family and home adds even more pain to a terrifying situation.

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That's why the New Mexico Children's Cancer Fund built Erin's Place, named after a 12-year-old boy who tragically lost his battle with cancer in the hospital.

That night he wanted to go home, but it wasn't possible. Now, his namesake will help provide to all the families traveling hours to get treatment with a place to call home.

“Every time I get a hug from a child,” said Diana Trujeque, “I get a hug from him.”

For Erin’s parents, it all started more than 30 years ago when their son was diagnosed with cancer. Since then they've helped raise millions of dollars in his memory.

“That instilled in us that we wanted to help other children and make them a comfortable place to stay if they were having end-of-life care,” Diana said.

Albuquerque is the only place in New Mexico with pediatric oncology care. Some families have to travel for hours across the state – or even from out-of-state – to get treatment.

“It tears the families apart. This enables them to stay together,” George Trujeque said.

So, together, they helped make Erin's Place a reality.

“We want to make sure that they are as comfortable as possible,” George said.

The facility has three apartments, and is able to facility three families at a time. It provides them with a laundry room, kitchen and playground to share with others sharing the facility.

“A cancer diagnosis for a child is a cancer diagnosis for the entire family,” said Jason Davis. “You all go through it. Every single day.”

The Davis' know just how tough the journey can be; their daughter Emma was diagnosed with leukemia last year.

“The first thing you think of is, ‘I'm going to lose my child,’” Anne Davis said. “You think of the worst thing.”

Since then they've spent a lot of time at UNM Hospital.

“Right when she was diagnosed we spent 12 consecutive nights at the hospital, and at various points in her treatment,” Jason said. “You come to the hospital every single day for anywhere from two hours to eight hours that you're staying there.”

The Davis family lives in the metro, so it’s an easy commute for them. But for many families, that just isn't possible.

“That first year is very tough,” Anne said. “To watch what your child has to go through in that first year is very surreal.”

Emma's doing much better now. She's expected to complete all her treatment by next May.

“The spirit and the strength that these kids have, as you can see, to just make the best out of the worst is amazing,” Anne said.

The Children's Cancer Fund also works with parents by giving them vouchers to eat at the hospital or fuel cards to get to and from treatment.

There's also activities and events for siblings and parents while they stay at the facility.

Credits

Joy Wang

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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