The Stone family has endured many hardships in recent years, but things were beginning to turn around this year for the family of six from Detroit. Desiree and her husband Iassah have been married for 17 years, raising six children together while working hard and trying to make ends meet. When the pandemic hit, the couple were devastated by the loss of many friends and family from COVID-19. Desiree was no longer able to endure the pressure of her job in healthcare, and turned to more independent work for her income, opting instead to work as a hair stylist and sell clothing on the side.
Yet 2021 had dawned brighter for the family. The couple bought a house from the land bank in Detroit and began to fix it up, planning to create a comfortable family home to enjoy together. Despite both of them working outside the home, they found time to begin remodeling the home. A new kitchen and new carpet were first on their list of accomplishments, with much more planned for the future.
Everything changed after May 28.
Nagging back pain had begun to keep Iassah from getting the work done in the early months of the year. By May, his back pain was so severe that he was no longer able to work at his job. After months of pain, he was finally diagnosed with Gastric cancer at age 35.
“We lost it – we both cried,” said Desiree. “We can’t figure out how it happened, and at this stage. My dad died from cancer, and my grandma had stage IV breast cancer that came back again this year.”
Unfortunately, the cancer had also spread throughout Iassah’s body – to his bones, his legs and around his heart – even breaking his back with its severity. His treatment included both IV and oral chemotherapy, both of which he had adverse reactions to and that, ultimately, were not able to help stave off the disease spreading throughout his body.
Iassah was released from the hospital in late October and went into a hospice program for what became metastatic cancer. Meanwhile, the family was left with mounting hospital bills, unpaid unemployment compensation that is still pending, and no disability income until December. Additionally, the home that the couple had intended to renovate continued to flood with each heavy rain, filling the basement and making it inhabitable, and the engine in Desiree’s car went out on the way home from the hospital– forcing her to have it pushed home the few remaining blocks.
New Day Foundation stepped in to help the family get their car repaired, as well as replace their refrigerator and stove after a recent power surge made them unusable. The family was also part of our Holiday Program, which supplied gifts for all of the family members.
Desiree is caring for her four children who are still at home, ages 6, 11, 13 and 15, with two more ages 18 and 20 living away from home. She says that although Iassah received hospice care, they were short-staffed and could only come twice a week.
“It’s just so much,” said Desiree. “I’m a full-time nurse, which I don’t mind, but I have kids to care for and I can’t work. We’ve had no funds since last year, so basically I’ve been doing everything,” she added. “A whole year with no income! There have been so many bad things, but many good things also. I’m just thankful.”