JARED CARLEW, AT right, shown with parents Gregory and Barbara, is fighting lymphoma. The Sullivan West grad, now living in Monticello, will be at a fund-raiser to help defray the costs of his medical bills this Saturday at the Delaware Youth Center in Callicoon.
Family Faces Crisis
By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON September 4, 2007 It was like a giant pillow in the middle of Jared Carlew’s chest.
From the top of his ribcage to the tops of his legs, the B-cell lymphoma had taken over.
But until late May of this year, the 19-year-old was still getting up each morning and going to work.
“He’d tell me he didn’t feel good, but typical kid, he’d say he’d get over it,” said Jared’s mom, Barbara.
Then came the coughing fits.
He thought his sinuses were draining. He went to the doctor, took a course of antibiotics and went back to his daily routine.
A week and a half later, he was feeling better, but the cough was still there.
“For four days, I fought with him, ‘Jared, we have to have a chest X-ray,’” Barbara Carlew recalled.
“Then the day before Memorial Day, he got coughing so bad he brought up a little bit of blood.”
She rushed him to the emergency room at Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris.
A CAT scan revealed his heart had been displaced by a huge mass in his chest.
Doctors called for a trip via helicopter to Westchester Medical Center.
Jared was scared, his mom said.
He was 19 and facing cancer.
He begged to be allowed to go home, take a shower, regroup.
Barbara gave in.
By June 1, the Carlews had learned the mass was malignant it was cancer.
“Dr. Shapiro called Sloan Kettering, Sayre and Albany,” Barbara recalled. “He said whoever calls back, that’s where you’re going.”
The family went to Sayre where they learned Jared’s heart and the right lung had been displaced, the left lung collapsed.
Doctors worked to stabilize him, get his body healthy enough to withstand the chemotherapy needed to attack the cancer.
Jared had his first chemo treatment on June 6 in the intensive care unit a week and a half after that first trip to the emergency room.
Last week, he went for his fifth dose at CRMC in Harris.
They’ll have to do at least two more the mass is still too large for doctors to begin radiation treatments.
But that will mean daily trips to Milford, Pa. for four to six weeks.
Jared turned 20 in the midst of his healthcare crisis. Although he was planning to reenroll in Sullivan County Community College this fall, he’s had to put those plans on hold.
That means he isn’t eligible for insurance through his parents. They’re trying to get a plan through Hudson Health, but nothing has been set in stone.
“The bills are phenomenal,” Barbara said. “I told my husband I’d have to live to 5,000 years old to pay this off.”
Worse still is watching her son shrink away.
“When they go to give him any results or tests, he says, ‘You can tell my mom,’ and walks out,” she said with a sigh. “He says, ‘Mom, I’ll do anything you tell me to do, but I can’t hear about it.’”
This is the boy who played football and baseball at Sullivan West, a boy who laughed.
Now his myspace.com page lists “a doctor that doesn’t say that you are sick when you visit them” under “people he wants to meet.”
He wakes his mom up at 3 a.m. and shyly asks if she’ll drive him to Wal-Mart.
The doctors forbid him from driving, and he’s literally scared sick of coming face-to-face with germs.
The middle of the night is the only time he feels safe going out, the only time he can escape the house and his thoughts.
“If he sees somebody coming down the aisle, he’ll cut down another aisle,” Barbara explained. “He’s terrified of infection.
“This was a kid who was used to going out, doing his thing, being with his friends,” she continued, her voice breaking.
“He’s such a good kid, to see him go through this… ”
Jared’s illness is taking a toll financially and emotionally on the Carlew family.
“I had a healthy kid, never, ever had a problem,” Barbara said. “Then out of the blue… I mean, when you go to the doctor with a cold, does he do an X-ray?
“They never would have found this.”
Jared’s dad Gregory can only take so much time off from his construction business the family is dependent on his income, and summer is the busiest time for a Sullivan County contractor.
Barbara’s boss, Sonny, at The Beer Store in Monticello has given her leave to do her job as bookkeeper from home or after hours, but she’s been forced to take off large chunks of time to travel with Jared to the hospital or stay home to care for him.
Her daughter, Jennifer, lends a hand but she can only do so much.
That’s why Saturday’s tricky tray social at the Delaware Youth Center in Callicoon has come as a godsend to the family.
It’s a fund-raiser, which will help with Jared’s medical bills, but it’s also a lifeline for the family. It’s a reminder that there is regular life and regular people out there beyond doctors and disease.
Although the Carlews now live in Monticello, they have strong roots in western Sullivan County where Jared graduated from Sullivan West in 2005.
They’ll also be benefitting from a poker run held this weekend by the Sullivan County ATV Association, and Jared will brave the outdoors to thank people personally at Saturday’s fund-raiser.
The doors will open at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the youth center, with drawings for the 50/50 and raffles at 4 p.m.
Donations can also be made at any branch of the First National Bank of Jeffersonville.