By: Jen Russon
The Haggett family calendar is full — full of doctor’s appointments for their oldest son Chansen taking them all over Florida and, sometimes, outside the state.
The 20-year-old has a rare form of liver cancer that requires treatments at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, then to Ft. Myers for a cardio ultrasound, and back to Tampa for a consultation with oncologists — all in one month.
In between, there are scheduled visits with doctors in Chicago.
For Chansen, diagnosed with leukemia as a young child, their lifestyle is nothing new. This is the third time his family has had to help him wage a terrifying cancer battle, and they say he’s met each one with grace and wit.
“Last month, he was stuck three times in his arms and hand before his nurses managed to get an IV in,” said his mother, Destiny. “Chansen walked out covered in bandages and said, ‘If anyone asks what happened, I’m telling them I fended off a knife attack.’”
The embattled mom keeps everyone up to date on her personal blog Chansen’s Champions, where dozens of mutual friends see a local family in need.
Her husband, Bill, is the general manager of the Coral Springs Center for the Arts. The pair share five children and met when Chansen and Graham attended Kindergarten.
“Technically, Bill is Chansen’s stepfather but has raised him and been beside us from the first diagnosis of cancer when Chansen was six,” said Destiny.
The family currently live in Coral Springs, with the exception of Graham who attends college in Seattle.
If not for his health emergency, Chansen would be away at school too, but the future teacher is on hiatus from Florida Southwestern State.
“He has a very quick wit, dry sense of humor — a spectacular laugh,” said Destiny.
She added her son fully expects to beat this and become a history teacher, with plans to jet-set around the world.
Chansen’s fans include Jennifer Caronna, who started a GoFundMe to help the Haggetts seek the medical care they believe will save their son’s life.
“Chasen is the warmest, funniest person you ever want to meet, and we want to do whatever we can to help him beat this,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer met the Haggetts when her family lived in Parkland. Now, residents of Delray Beach, she said it’s been heartbreaking to watch from afar as her best friend, Destiny, fights with insurance companies.
“This is a very rare form of liver cancer, and because of the rarity of it, Chansen and his family are researching all treatment plans available to them. Not all are covered,” she said.
Destiny said there’s no disputing the number of resources it will take to beat his official diagnosis of Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma, a rare liver cancer that primarily occurs in adolescents and young adults who have no history of liver disease.
In the early stages of the disease, affected patients often have no symptoms, so by the time the cancer is found, it may have already spread beyond the liver. Approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed worldwide each year.
She said one of the things her son will need is testing for his tumor, so they can see what drugs kill it and which ones it is resistant to. Since doctors can do this at a lab instead of cutting into Chansen’s body; insurance will not cover it because it is a newer technology and procedure.
“We are a strong and resilient family, but waiting for approvals for tests, surgery, and treatment is mentally draining,” said Destiny. “The fewer hoops we have to jump through to get approvals, the better.”
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- Jen Russon has been a staff writer for Talk Media since 2018. She is also a novelist, copywriter and editor at Swallow Publishing, LLC.
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