The health of 15-year-old Jinger Vincent depends on whether her family has enough money to buy gasoline to take her to her medical appointments. Vincent, a lifelong athlete, was diagnosed with bone cancer more than a year ago.
“My first thought was don’t 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’s hard” to see his daughter, once healthy and vibrant, now “wasting away in bed” during the most difficult period of her illness.
He has been through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, including the replacement of part of his femur and recent lung surgery. She now has doctor 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 last year, parents Keith and Anal Vincent now spend more than $200 a week on gas, money they don’t always have.
“Let’s pay off the mortgage first,” said Anali Vincent. “Let’s pay most of the bills. But at the end of the day, I said, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t have gas money.’ So I end up, like, going to instant cash. That’s our best friend right now.”
Those are short-term, high-interest loans that they rely on to pay for transportation to their daughter’s appointments. They’ve cut back on grocery shopping, a sacrifice that doesn’t go unnoticed by Jinger.
“Having to see them, ‘We have to pay this bill. We have to pay for that.’ And I’m downstairs and I hear all of that. It seems so stressful and I feel bad for them,” said Jinger Vincent.
To reduce travel, the Vincents have at times received temporary housing near the Ronald McDonald House hospital. Families who go to the Ronald McDonald House of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana often travel long distances for care, an average of 164 miles. With petrol prices rising, the charity has seen increased demand for its services.
Despite their obstacles, the family said they are attentive to what matters.
“People have certain disputes, tests every day,” said Keith Vincent. “Oh, rent, food, you know, but you kind of figure it out. When you have cancer, those kinds of things go away.”
“We’re not worried, although we can’t pay for certain things,” Analizes Vincent added. “The big picture is her.”