Hi, I'm Vicki Porter, and I have been dealing with stage 4 colorectal cancer for the past 5 years (since the age of 46). Since my diagnosis, I have been struggling to keep up with the competing demands of undergoing treatment, working, doing household chores, and managing expenses.
I have undergone 4 surgeries, 5 years of chemotherapy (with a few breaks), and 12 radiation treatments. I was doing quite well until recently. Lately, the side effects of treatment and the cancer itself have prevented me from working full-time.
The chemo regimen I just completed took a lot out of me, and I lost 25 pounds. My oncologist feels that I am too weak and underweight at this time to undergo chemotherapy, so my immediate goal is to regain my strength and put some weight back on so that I can resume treatments. This is easier said than done, because my appetite remains poor.
I have been on a medical leave of absence since mid-March, and I won't be able to return to work anytime soon. I don't have the energy or focus to perform the tasks required for my full-time job (medical writing). I am in the process of applying for long-term disability through my company, but the benefits will only equal 60% of my regular income.
What makes my situation even more difficult is that my husband Dennis, who was classified as "permanently disabled" back in 1999 due to a severe back injury he sustained at work that required several reconstructive surgeries, has not been able to work since then. In 2009, Dennis's life was threatened by a severe bacterial infection called Clostridium perfringens, which caused gas gangrene in his arm. The surgeons at Brookhaven warned me that the risk was very high and that he might lose his arm and even his life. Thankfully, he came out of the surgery alive and intact, but he was in an induced coma for a week and he was still extremely ill. During the week he lay in a coma, blood tests showed that he had acute lymphoblastic/lymphocytic leukemia.
The next year and a half was a series of nightmares as he struggled through week-long treatments in the hospital every other week. I visited him every evening, and sometimes stayed overnight with him in the hospital. I was going through chemo myself during that time, but I was feeling pretty good on most days. There were several emergency room visits that year, because Dennis suffered complications including pneumonia, liver damage, and brain bleeds "“ which necessitated brain surgery.
Although my "Miracle Man" has been in remission for 4 years, he has permanent and severe damage to his central nervous system (neuropathy in his feet and legs) and has great pain and difficulty walking very far. He has a compromised immune system and gets regular throat infections, among other health problems. He has been repeatedly denied Social Security Disability benefits.
My brother-in-law, who is also our financial adviser, has informed us that by the end of this year, even with conservative household spending, we will have a $10,000 deficit. We are holding a fundraiser in the hopes of receiving some much-needed donations to cover this deficit and to pay for some household expenses we need to take on in order to make our living conditions more sanitary. Most importantly, we need new carpeting to replace our moldy rugs so that it will be easier to breathe in the house. Since my cancer has metastasized to the lungs, it is crucial that I have clean air to breathe.
The fight against cancer must be fought on many fronts. Medical treatment, good nutrition, lots of rest, exercise, and avoidance of stress are all part of the healing process. My biggest cause of stress, aside from the illness itself, is financial strain.
We have been touched by the kind-heartedness of our family and friends and by people's willingness to help. Some of you have helped Dennis and me so much already, and some of you don't know us that well (or at all) -- but we're asking anyone who feels that they are in a position to help out and who feel that this is a worthwhile cause to please contribute whatever you feel you can afford. We would be forever grateful for your donation and would hope that good karma comes back to you for your compassion and generosity.
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