Meet Mighty Quinn
“Friends of Karen gave me hope when I felt hopeless.”
Quinn was just three months old when his mother Caravelle noticed something was wrong as he could not keep food down. Quinn’s mom went to the doctor frequently to find answers, but Quinn was still sick. The way Caravelle handled this illness is exactly the way she tackled all the challenges to come — she simply would not give up.
When she finally got an answer, the news was devastating. Quinn had a brain tumor and the prognosis was grim. He needed to be admitted immediately to the pediatric intensive care unit, where he remained for the next nine months.
At first, Caravelle admits, she did not understand how serious things were becoming so quickly. Soon it became apparent as Quinn needed surgery to remove the tumor and to place a shunt in his skull to relieve pressure on his brain that was affecting his blood pressure.
In addition to surgery to remove Quinn’s tumor, he underwent several months of chemotherapy and his little body had difficulty tolerating treatment. Caravelle was told to prepare for the worst, but with her unwavering faith she refused to accept that outcome.
He recovered from that episode, but Caravelle’s faith and Quinn’s toughness were tested when he was close to dying two more times. On top of these struggles, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and made things much more complicated. Quinn’s treatment was able to continue, but under very trying and frightening circumstances surrounding them. Through it all she refused to give up on him.
Along with Quinn’s fragile health, Caravelle had to contend with her fragile finances. When Quinn was diagnosed, she left her job as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home near home in the Bronx so she could be by his bedside. She is a single mom to Quinn and his older sister Gabriella, and the pressure to care for Quinn, be there for Gabriella, and try managing her dwindling finances became too much to handle.
“I was trying to work out what to do,” Caravelle recalled. “Would I need to move in with my mother in Philadelphia? Would I have to give up my car or apartment, sell my furniture, or go back to work and not stay with Quinn at the hospital? Then the social worker at the hospital handed me a piece of paper with Friends of Karen’s phone number at the top of the page.”
At first, she was hesitant to call Friends of Karen for help, but held on to the paper for two weeks. When Caravelle realized she could no longer do this on her own, she called. After submitting an application, she was connected to Friends of Karen social worker Rhonda, and learned that the organization would help with her rent, car payment, and food.
Now that Quinn has finished chemotherapy, celebrated his first birthday and is more stable, Caravelle can look back at the difference Friends of Karen has made. “Without Friends of Karen, I might have ended up in a homeless shelter,” she observed. “And, it wasn’t just help paying my bills. Around Thanksgiving there was a box of food for our dinner and gifts for my kids for Christmas.”
Though Quinn still has to be closely monitored, Caravelle plans to go back to work by the fall. She is grateful that Friends of Karen has helped them get to a stable place financially and emotionally. “Friends of Karen gave me hope when I felt hopeless,” she said.
Ways to give
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Friends of Karen believes that families can maintain a sense of balance and stability even in the midst of the crisis of caring for a child with a life-threatening illness.