Twelve-year-old girl beats cancer for second time, family struggles to find housing

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s been a long 12 years for Serina Robles. Her life is a little bit easier now, but for the last six months, she’s been in Seattle battling cancer.

“It actually feels good. I’m actually happy I’m home. I missed my family when I was in Seattle and I missed my friends,” Serina told 4 News Now.

Home, for her, is in the Inland Northwest. She and her family are originally from Coeur d’Alene, but they dropped everything to go to Seattle for Serina’s fight against leukemia.

Now, they’re looking for a home near Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane, because Serina still has to go to chemotherapy and will have many appointments regularly. She’s in remission now, but her cancer can come back.

“For the rest of my life, my wife’s life, we’re going to live in fear that it’s going to come back, because it’s made two failed attempts to take her life,” said Ray Robles, her father.

For at least a year, she won’t be able to go to school because her immune system is so weak.

Staying home might be a dream for many kids, but it isn’t for Serina. The house they’re living in now isn’t really their home.

“The pictures you see on the wall, it’s not even my family. It’s their family,” Ray said.

Since they came back to the Inland Northwest last week, they’ve been staying at a friends home because they’ve struggled to find their own.

“The problem we’re facing right now is not having proof of income. Our credit score is not all that great, so we’ve been getting turned away for those reasons,” Ray said. He added that the home is fine to live in, but is a little tight for a family of five.

There is help out there. The Robles family have reached out to some of them. Catholic Charities is one who helps in different ways.

“We just help them to access resources that are available to them that maybe they didn’t realize or they weren’t in a situation where they know how to access that,” said Shannon Boniface, the director for St. Margaret’s Shelter with Catholic Charities.

Boniface said anyone can get help, or at least resources, from Catholic Charities by calling them.

Like she said, they help people access resources, but they can also help those who are more vulnerable and are out on the streets.

“There’s a lot of need out there and we’re doing our best to serve folks,” she said.

When the word homeless comes up, we often might think of someone out on the streets, without a roof over their head or someone living in their car. But, it can be hidden, too.

It’s a word that’s tough for Ray to think about his family being described.

“I’ve always been a hard-working man, provided for my family. My wife and I, both of us, we work really hard to provide for our children. We live, breathe and work for our kids. That’s my purpose. That’s our purpose,” he said. “Being in this situation, it’s very difficult.”

Ray said he’s trying to get help for his family, but it isn’t easy. He’s hoping someone can help them.

“I don’t want to fail my kids,” he paused. “I just want them to have a home. That’s all I want.”

The Robles Family definitely has had some highs and some lows. Ray says it’s made their family stronger.

“Just makes you appreciate life more. Sometimes we’re so caught up in this world we don’t realize how beautiful life is,” Ray said.

There is a whole list of resources on Spokane Cares’ website, which you can find here.