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It's More Than a Car, It's a Lifeline

05/11/2010

By: Tony DeMarco Sports Writer and Fans Across America Member

A day in the life of Franchesca Molina involves driving -- lots of driving.

From her home in Avondale, it's back-and-forth twice daily to a west Phoenix high school, where 18-year-old son Michael is a special education student.

Most weekdays, Franchesca also drops off 7-year-old Alexis - who is being treated for a brain tumor -- at a nearby elementary school.

And twice a week, mother and daughter must make a 45-60-minute trip across town to Phoenix Children's Hospital. That's where Alexis is receiving chemotherapy treatments every Monday, and attending speech and physical therapy sessions on Wednesdays.

"I have a lot of driving on my hands,'' Franchesca said. "I need my car. It's everything to me right now.''

So when the Fans Across America Charitable Foundation stepped in to help Franchesca in her time of need, the number one item on her priority list was her 2006 Chevy Impala.

Franchesca already has racked up just under 100,000 miles on the vehicle, and it badly needed a new set of tires. That was handled, thanks to Foundation member and supporter Howard Fleischmann at Community Tire. And when the water pump went out, that was taken care of thanks to contributions from the Fans Across America community.

"I really appreciate what the foundation has done,'' Franchesca said. "They really have helped a lot. The car is working pretty good now. I was really worried about the tires; they were bald. And I don't have money saved right now for things like a water pump.''

The busy schedule, which began when the diagnosis of a medulloblastoma tumor on Alexis' brain was made in January, isn't allowing Franchesca to work as a medical assistant.

"I want to go back to work, but it's impossible - not until I know Alexis is getting close to getting done (with treatments),'' Franchesca said. "And I can't predict that. They say until next April, but if there is a reaction, that could prolong it. The hardest part is seeing her being in pain. She's up late at night because of all the pain she's going through.''

Once every six weeks, Alexis receives a full dose of three medications in her treatment, and on those occasions, she spends a night in the hospital.

"The hardest part for her is that she's tired of taking the medication,'' Franchesca said. "That, and the hair loss. She wears a wig to school, so she doesn't seem like the odd one. But it itches, and she doesn't like it.''

The first-grader, who will turn 8 on Oct. 6, does not get to participate in her physical education classes for the time being.

"She will sit there and watch, or help the teacher,'' Franchesca said. "She's still off-balance and weak. There is a lot of nerve pain. No seizures, no complications, just the pain she's having. She's happy, but whiney. Everything hurts her.''

The good news is the latest MRI showed no trace of any new tumors. But Franchesca and Alexis live with the knowledge that could happen.

"I don't know what will happen if it comes back,'' Franchesca said. "I'm hoping it doesn't. So far, so good.''

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