Mother who lost son to cancer helps others pay the bills

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Losing a child to a deadly disease is a heartbreaking moment. A Valley mother took her anguish and turned it into a foundation that helps other parents.

Joan Halford has been helping families with their bills for seven years and never really sought attention for it. But she knows that if she is going to help more people, she needs help raising money.

The people working at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children's Hospital see children struggling with disease every day. And they see the emotional and financial toll it takes.
 
“The hardest day for me is Mother’s Day,” Halford said. “That's where I kind of curl up in my bed and don't come out.”
 
Halford has more good days than bad now. Her son, Evan, lost his fight with cancer when he was just 15 years old. While writing his obituary, Halford decided to form a foundation in his name.
 
“All they should have to think about is their child because bills shouldn't matter when a child has cancer,” Halford explained.
 
She pays the bills no one thinks about when cancer invades their life: the rent, water and electricity.
 
“The need is real,” said social worker Kathryn Peterson. “We need the help and so do the families.”
 
There are a few places Peterson can go for help, but Halford keeps it simple.
 
“We send Joan an email and say, 'Hey, I have an electric bill that needs to be paid,' ” Peterson said. “No questions asked.”
 
Halford helps 25 to 30 families here every year. She is never limited by the size of her heart, only the foundation's bank account.
 
“Once we get to that budget, I have to tell the social workers, 'We can't give you any more money this year,' " Halford said. "I want to be able to give whatever they need.”
 
Everything donated to this organization helps Arizona families. The website is www.rememberevan.org.