Isra's story

Helping a family at a time when they needed it most

Afzal and his wife Maria are proud parents to two young girls – seven-year-old Alaya and five-year-old Isra. Seven months ago, they were living what appeared to be normal lives and were both working full-time.

But in December, things started to take a turn.


Following Your Gut

Their youngest daughter, Isra, was having regular fevers. She was in and out of doctor’s offices and emergency rooms. After X-rays and CT scans came back clear, the fevers were thought to be the results of typical childhood illnesses. But they were becoming constant, and Afzal and his wife were determined to get answers, so they requested more tests from their family doctor.

Around 11 PM on  New Year’s Eve, Afzal’s phone rang from a blocked number. He almost screened the call, but something within him prompted him to pick it up. 

It was the results from Isra’s blood tests. It came with the recommendation to call an ambulance to take Isra to the hospital right away.



By 2:30 AM, the family was at the hospital for further testing that resulted in news that no parent ever wants to hear. Isra was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia, commonly known as blood cancer.

“It was shocking news. We didn’t know what to do. We have no family here – nobody’s here – and we have never faced this kind of disease. It was very tough and we didn’t know much,” Afzal recalls. 

They were told that Isra’s diagnosis has a high curability rate, but she would need to undergo two and a half years of treatment, including high dose chemotherapy. Due to the intensive treatment schedule, Afzal and his wife have been unable to work, adding financial stress to an already difficult time.

“We didn’t know what to do. I cannot work and I have a house and everything, so I didn’t know what to do,” Afzal explains.


Helping a Family

That’s when a social worker told him about Helping Families Handle Cancer. Because of donors like you, Afzal’s family received financial relief for mortgage payments, meals, transportation, utility bills and groceries at a time when they needed it most.

“It is really helpful because when you are in that kind of trouble, you don’t know what to do and at the same time you have your expenditures –  your parking, your groceries and everything. This organization is very good, it has blessed us.”



Isra recently celebrated her fifth birthday. She has a long journey ahead of her, but her family and her medical team are optimistic about the future. And the ongoing support of Helping Families is continuing to make an incredible difference in their lives, giving them the ability to focus on their family and helping Isra get well.

“It’s a very tough situation, so we’re really thankful. It has really helped in this difficult time.”

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