This story was published on cbsnews.com on July 14.
The health of 15-year-old Jinger Vincent depends on whether her family has enough money to buy gas in order to get her to her medical appointments. Vincent, a life-long athlete, was diagnosed with bone cancer more than a year ago.
“The first thought that I had was don’t cry,” Vincent told CBS News. “I was in front of my parents and I wanted to be strong for them.”
Her father, Keith Vincent, said “it’s tough” seeing his daughter, once healthy and vibrant, now “wasting away in bed” during the most difficult period of her illness.
She has been through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, including replacing part of her femur bone, and recent lung surgery. She now has medical and physical therapy appointments nearly every other day, often traveling up to an hour away from her home in rural Indiana. With gas prices more than doubling in the past year, parents Keith and Analiza Vincent now spend more than $200 a week on gas, money they don’t always have.
“Let’s pay the mortgage first,” Analiza Vincent said. “Let’s pay the majority of the bills. But the end of the day, I said, ‘Wait a minute, we do not have money for gas.’ So I end up, like, going the instant cash. That’s our best friend right now.”
Those are short-term, high-interest loans they are relying on to afford transportation to their daughter’s appointments. They have cut back on groceries, a sacrifice not lost on Jinger.
“Having to watch them, ‘We have to pay this bill. We have to pay that.’ And I’m downstairs and I hear all of that. It just seems so stressful and I feel bad for them,” Jinger Vincent said.
To cut down on travel, the Vincents have at times received temporary housing near the hospital from the Ronald McDonald House. Families that go to the Ronald McDonald House of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana often travel long distances for care — an average of 164 miles. With gas prices surging, the charity has seen demand for its services increase.
Despite their roadblocks, the family said they are keeping their eyes on what matters.
“People have certain bickerings, everyday trials,” Keith Vincent said. “Oh, rent, food, you know, but you kind of, like, work it out. When you got cancer, that kind of stuff fades away.”
“We’re not worried about, even though we can’t afford certain things,” Analiza Vincent added. “The big picture is her.”