URI family to receive police support for infant born with rare cancer

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Cops For Kids to donate $5,000 to aid Dan and Angela Graney’s daughter

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 15, 2014 – Defying unfathomable odds, Violet Graney survived an incredibly difficult birth with a ruptured tumor on her left arm. Now, as the infant continues her battle with a rare form of cancer, parents Dan and Angela Graney, University of Rhode Island staff members, face mounting medical bills.

The South Kingstown family will now receive some help covering those costs. On Friday, Oct. 17, at noon Cops for Kids With Cancer Chairman Robert Faherty will be at the URI police station, 85 Briar Lane in Kingston to present the Graneys with a check for $5,000.

Dan Graney, assistant director of Student Life for Substance Abuse and Prevention Services at URI, initially heard about Cops for Kids with Cancer through Hasbro Children’s Hospital, where Violet has been receiving treatment for infantile fibrosarcoma, a cancerous soft-tissue tumor that occurs at a rate of 5 infants per million, according to the National Cancer Institute. Graney said Violet’s doctors were unable to find records of any newborns that survived a rupture of the tumor in utero.

When Angela Graney, assistant director of the University’s International Engineering Program Living and Learning Community, learned of the donation, she breathed a sigh of relief.

“We were just so humbled and thankful,” she said. “Obviously, we did not plan for this to happen. I had planned to take 12 weeks of maternity leave and then go back to work. Being out of work has been hard on us financially, so this grant has been amazing.”

Faherty said Cops for Kids with Cancer has helped more than 325 families since it began in 2008, and presenting the donations is always rewarding.

“I can’t put it into words. You know you’re helping a family in need and you know they’re grateful,” said Faherty, who spent 40 years with the Boston Police Department before retiring as superintendent-in-chief. “Hopefully, this will help them carry on for a couple of months and help them focus on their sick child in the face of overwhelming medical bills.”

Violet was born Sunday, May 25, at Women & Infants Hospital via Caesarean section after doctors determined she had a mass the size of a football on her forearm, Dan Graney said.

“We didn’t know what was happening until the day of her birth,” Graney said. “She wouldn’t have survived until Monday.”

Angela Graney had noticed the baby wasn’t moving as much as expected in the days leading up to her birth. After notifying her doctor, Graney went to Women & Infants for an ultrasound and the mass was discovered.

Violet suffered extensive internal damage from the in utero bleeding, underwent four full blood transfusions in her first 24 hours and didn’t open her eyes for two weeks. But, Graney said, with the help of doctors at Hasbro Children’s Hospital’s Tomorrow Fund Clinic, Violet is recovering. She now swings the affected arm all over the place, babbles and appears to be only three or four weeks behind in her development, Dan Graney said. After six rounds of chemotherapy, the mass is now the size of a tennis ball and surgery to remove the tumor is scheduled for Oct. 29.

“It’s so hard because sometimes I think, ‘I can’t win $2 on a Powerball ticket,’ but here we have this living, breathing miracle. Some days are good and you are just so thankful, while other days are difficult and you think, ‘Why is this happening to us,” Angela Graney said. “Before she was born, I don’t think we really knew what the word miracle really meant. Now we truly understand what a miracle is.”

With intensive treatment has come mounting medical expenses. Acting on the Hasbro staff’s advice to contact Cops for Kids with Cancer, Dan Graney asked URI colleague Police Lt. Michael Donohue to sponsor Violet’s application. Donohue didn’t hesitate.

“We’ve had a lot of interactions, gone to conferences together and we work in the same sphere at URI. Mike is our go-to person for Substance Abuse Prevention Services,” Dan Graney said. “The amount of support we’ve gotten from everywhere, but especially from Mike to take the time to do this, has been unbelievable.”

As the sponsor, Donohue wrote letters, filled out paperwork and submitted the request on Violet’s behalf.

“I’m thrilled. I’m so happy for the family because they’re spending so much money to make their daughter well and every little bit helps,” Donohue said.

The Graneys have two other children, Harrison, age 7, and Paige, age 5.