The health of 15-year-old Jinger Vincent depends on his family having enough money to buy gas to take him to medical appointments. Vincent, a lifelong athlete, was diagnosed with bone cancer over a year ago.
“The first thought I had was not to 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 is “difficult” to watch his daughter, once healthy and full of life, now “wasting away in bed” during the most difficult time of her illness.
She underwent chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, including replacement of part of her femur, and recent lung surgery. She now has medical and physical therapy appointments nearly every other day, often traveling up to an hour from her home in rural Indiana. With gas prices more than doubling over the past year, parents Keith and Analiza Vincent now spend over $200 a week on gas, money they don’t always have.
“Let’s pay the mortgage first,” said Analiza Vincent. “Let’s pay the majority of the bills. But at the end of the day, I said, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t have any gas money.’ So I end up, like, going instant money. He’s our best friend right now. ”
These are short-term, high-interest loans that they rely on to pay for transportation to appointments for their daughter. They cut back on groceries, a sacrifice that Jinger didn’t miss.
“Having to watch them, ‘We have to pay this bill. We have to pay this.’ And I’m downstairs and hearing all of this. It sounds so stressful and I feel bad for them,” Jinger Vincent said.
To reduce travel, the Vincents were sometimes given temporary accommodation near the Ronald McDonald House Hospital. Families traveling to the Ronald McDonald House in Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana often travel long distances for treatment – an average of 164 miles. With petrol prices soaring, 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 squabbles, daily lawsuits,” Keith Vincent said. “Oh, the rent, the food, you know, but you, like, you manage. When you have cancer, that kind of thing fades.”
“We are not worried, even if we cannot afford certain things,” added Analiza Vincent. “The big picture is her.”