Metro Detroit non-profit helps families struggling with financial, emotional weight of cancer

‘I’m just a believer that what I am doing is something that God has ordained me to do’

A Metro Detroit non-profit is helping families struggling with the financial and emotional weight of cancer by raising money to help pay their bills. Since spring, seven-year-old Isabella Hanson has been battling many forms of cancer, including stage 4.

RIVER ROUGE, Mich. – A Metro Detroit non-profit is helping families struggling with the financial and emotional weight of cancer by raising money to help pay their bills.

Since spring, seven-year-old Isabella Hanson has been battling many forms of cancer, including stage 4.

“There was the blood clot in the femoral vein, but there was also a mass in and around her femoral artery,” said Isabella’s mother, Sara Hanson. “So she had shortness of breath, and she had this giant mass that you can literally see with the naked eye and other lymphomas around the area that had started to surface. On the first, she was diagnosed with the lymphoma and on the seventh is when it was classified with Rhabdomyosarcoma, stage 4.”

The seven-year-old is one of six siblings living in a River Rouge home with a sick father, who himself is battling chronic disease.

The family has a broken-down car. Isabella Hanson’s mother, Sara Hanson, is the only one working as she is a housekeeper, adding odd jobs to keep the family going while also regularly moving family members to and from the hospital.

“He (husband) has severe Crohn’s disease,” Sara Hanson said. “He actually just had a hospital stay. He was in there for nine days.”

But the Hanson family didn’t have far to look for help thanks to CARN, short for Cancer Awareness Resource Network, found them.

“What we say is that we raise money to give it away,” said CARN founder Keith White.

CARN is the only organization currently helping six families in the Metro Detroit area, but they are running out of money fast.

“Cancer is the second largest killer in America,” White said. “So there’s always been a great need, but since COVID, it just exacerbates the whole issue.”

While it may not have a big name and big splashy ads on television, it is non-profits like CARN that can show an immediate impact in helping struggling families.

“If no one helps, then nothing gets done,” White said. “I’m just a believer that what I am doing is something that God has ordained me to do. So, it will get done one way or another.”

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About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.