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Gas prices taking toll on family traveling for teen's cancer treatment

Posted at 10:38 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 23:44:29-04

FENTON, Mich. (WXYZ) — The time frame of the rise in prices at the pump coincides with the start of the Sergent family's 80-mile, daily round trips for cancer treatment. It's one more thing adding stress to an already stressful situation.

“I never really had to think about gas prices before until it really affected us," Keegan Sergent, 16, told 7 Action News.

She shouldn’t have to think about gas prices at all. The 16-year-old is battling a rare form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. It affects the soft tissue in her abdomen.

Her mom Elizabeth said, “She’s in the fight for her life and I want to get her to the treatments that she needs to receive."

They live in Fenton and ever since the diagnosis in February, Elizabeth Sergent has driven her daughter to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor for testing, chemotherapy and radiation.

"And I may have to fill the tank every couple days. I mean, it’s 80 miles round trip," she explained.

They're not alone.

“Every single day, there’s hundreds of families that we see up in the infusion center that are going through the same thing that we are," Elizabeth Sergent said. "I know they’re feeling the same effects that we are with the gas prices.”

Elizabeth Sergent turned to GoFundMe for help with travel and medicine. So far, she's raised just over $10,000 for relief.

She said she’s uncertain what long-term relief at the pump looks like as Keegan’s treatments will go into next year.

President Joe Biden proposed a three-month federal gas and diesel tax holiday. That would save drivers about 18.4 cents a gallon for regular unleaded.

7 Action News asked University of Michigan economic forecaster Daniil Maneankov if he thinks the proposal goes far enough to help consumers. He said he doesn’t think it will even come up for a vote.

“The more recent development in the oil market may actually provide more relief because we have seen the price of a barrel of oil come down more than 10% in the last couple days," he explained.

Once that drop in the price of a barrel of oil filters down to prices at the pump, Maneankov said that will probably translate to a 40 or 50 cent decline per gallon.

He said it's perhaps a little more impactful than a gas tax holiday for families like the Sergents.

“Traveling down there every single day does take a toll," Sergent said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer put out a statement in response to the president's federal gas and diesel tax holiday proposal. She said in part:

"If we suspend the Michigan sales tax on gas and also get this done, we can save families nearly 50 cents a gallon right now."

She goes on to say, "I will work across the aisle with the Michigan Legislature and use every tool at my disposal to ensure working families can pay the bills and put food on the table."