Published on www.theadvertiser.com
By Kris Wartelle, email@example.com
The Lanclos family- Ashley, Alic, Steffan and Soffia- at Sts. Leo-Seton Catholic School in Lafayette Nov. 29, 2016.
When 31-year-old Steffan Lanclos started having seizures about a year ago, he thought maybe it was just his diet.
Lanclos, a husband and father of two, had worked in the oilfield as a mechanic and was used to long hours and sporadic eating habits, so he thought he'd try to eat better and put off going to a doctor. It wasn’t until his wife, Ashley, witnessed one of the episodes that he sought medical help."We were at his parents’ house,” Ashley recalled. "He kind of spaced out and he couldn’t talk. His mom freaked out. We convinced him to go to the doctor in Lafayette.”
After several tests, an MRI revealed a tumor the size of a large egg in Lanclos’ brain. He was referred to a surgeon in New Orleans who told him he couldn’t wait. The tumor had to be removed immediately. Lanclos had been diagnosed with Astrocytoma, stage 2 brain cancer.
To make matters worse, Lanclos had recently been laid off from his job in the oilfield and had just started a new job working as a mechanic for an automobile dealership. Because of his condition and current radiation treatments, he would no longer be able to drive — a vital part of his work repairing cars.
"It was shocking,” Lanclos said. "I’m on medical leave now. I have to be seizure-free for six months before I can drive again. I just started radiation, but we won’t know if it's working until the fourth week of (treatment). I don’t want to get my hopes up.”
The family was especially worried about their son, 9-year-old Alic, who had just moved to a new school. Alic, a voracious reader who loved the library, was thriving in the Christian-based environment at Sts. Leo-Seton in Lafayette. While the family was able to get help with house payments and some tuition from family members, they weren’t sure how long that would last. They wanted more than anything to keep their son in a school where he was challenged and happy to be learning.
"It was really important for him to get a good education,” Lanclos said. "I didn’t have many options growing up. I didn’t have the option of going to college.”
Alic Lanclos reading in the library at Sts. Leo-Seton Catholic School in Lafayette Nov. 29, 2016. (Photo: LEE CELANO/THE ADVERTISER)
Because Lanclos could not work while going through treatment, the couple felt they could not continue to pay for Catholic school. At one point, Ashley said, she told her son he might have to leave Sts. Leo-Seton and go back to public school.
"I started to cry,” she said. "Because I didn’t feel like it was his fault. We didn’t want him to not be able to go to the library, his favorite place to go. We wanted him to read what he wanted to read."
That’s when Alic’s school contacted the couple about the Joseph Fund, a non-profit program that helps financially disadvantaged Christian children gain an education and leadership skills in a Christian environment.
Chairman Bruce Bown said he started the fund because he had seen the negative impact on families who could no longer afford tuition because of tough economic times.
He had even known a family with two students that was forced to choose which child could stay in private school and which had to be moved to a public institution. Choosing which one would stay and which one would go was a heart-wrenching decision, he said.
"They were in a very difficult and trouble-filled public school district,” Bown said, "And the effect on the family was very profound.”
Bown said about $34,000 in scholarships has been awarded in tuition grants for 12 children and families in just two years."
We’ve been connected with the Joseph Fund for a couple of years,” said Amos J. Batiste Jr., development director at Sts. Leo-Seton Catholic School. "We are a family here. The faith part is huge here. That’s who we are. So when a family is hurting, our family steps in to help. For many, this is home. This is family and they don’t want to leave family.”
Batiste said students such as Alic get a sense of peace that they might not get anywhere else. For the Lanclos family, the Joseph Fund provided some relief from their financial worries and relief for Alic, knowing that he would not have to leave his school and his friends.
When his father fell ill, Alic was given a prayer coin to carry with him. He said he rubbed it every day, hoping and praying that his father would make it through surgery and get better."
I felt sad,” he said. "I didn’t want my dad to go into the hospital."
Lanclos did make it through the surgery OK, even though doctors told him his chances of not surviving the procedure were better than his chances of surviving it. Alic said he thinks his prayer coin helped his dad. He also remembers the day when he found out he would not have to leave his school."
I told my friends, 'I'm probably not going to come back; I don't really know,'" he said. "Then, when I told them I was coming back, they were surprised I came back ... I was happy.”
Alic Lanclos, 9, a student at Sts. Leo Seton Catholic School. (Photo: Ashley Lanclos)
About the Joseph Fund
The Fund is established under the Community Foundation of Acadiana. It is a 501(c)3 organization.
100 percent of donor funds go to the tuition assistance for needy children in grades 4-12.
The fund is a Christian outreach effort to benefit financially disadvantaged children and their families.
For more information on how to help, contact the Community Foundation of Acadiana at www.cfacadiana.org or call 337-769-4840.