Friend in Need When Cancer Hits Home

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy to hear. It impacts not just the person diagnosed, but all the people that are close to them. In the case of my friend Heather, the person impacted most (outside herself) is her wife Jenn.
 
The Start of a Journey
 
Heather and Jenn met in high school. They had an instant connection. Jenn likes to joke that Heather took her home for dinner one day, and she never left. They have been together for over 25 years, and have built a life and a business together.
 
The Road So Far...

What makes this less of a typical love story is that Jenn has Cerebral Palsy. As the years have gone by, her joints have decided to cooperate less and less, and she has been bound to a wheelchair to get around for quite a while. This means that Heather is her full-time, primary caretaker. You rarely see one without the other. They are a package deal.
 
For the last decade, they have been building their own sound and digital editing business. They made the decision many years ago to leave work in corporate America and pursue their dreams, which makes their income stream unpredictable at times. It also means they do not have insurance.
 
A few months ago, Heather was experiencing some severe abdominal pain. She is the type of person that will tough it through most things, but this was bad. She had no choice but to go to the doctor. What they discovered was that Heather’s cervix was dilated to the point that it looked like she was giving birth. A very large polyp had essentially put a stopper over her cervix.
 
That polyp however, turned out to be a life saver. If that had not prompted the visit to the doctor, Heather’s cancer may not have been found for years, and would have progressed much further. But because of that polyp, Heather was diagnosed at Stage One Uterine Cancer (something the oncologist she was referred to almost never sees). Unfortunately, this life saver cost them about $8000, out of pocket.
 
During the process of tests, biopsies, game-planning with the oncologist, Heather and Jenn began the arduous process of applying for Medicaid. They were assured by the doctor's office that they were sure to be approved, as this was a women’s health issue, and should be fully covered.
 
She was not approved. After weeks of back and forth, they were basically told she had the “wrong kind of cancer”, that because it hadn't originated in the cervix then she would have to wait until it was cervical cancer and then she would be approved.  Now that they've been denied however they've been told they can't reapply for 2 years so that door is closed regardless of any further diagnosis.
 
Now what....
 
So they paid for everything out of pocket. Heather got scheduled for her hysterectomy, and they paid almost $20,000 for the surgery, hospital costs and anesthesia. This was money they did not have to spare. They arranged for family and friends to tag team taking care of both Heather and Jenn, because Heather cannot do any of the things she has done for Jenn, because she cannot lift or pull or push while she is recovering.
 
Four days into recovery their long-time client decided to put their contract on hold, and that meant what little money they had coming in right now was not going to be coming in any more.
 
Also during her recovery period, to add insult to injury, the AC/furnace unit in the house went out, apparently damaged by rats that had quietly infiltrated in the last few months and have chewed up just about everything. It’s not covered by their homeowners insurance so that’s another $10-15,000 to get rid of the rats and squirrels and replace the duct work and units that were damaged.
 
Heather still has follow up visits that they don’t know how they will pay for. They have no income coming in right now since Heather can't work right now and can't help Jenn get to necessary appointments and meetings.  They are not the type of people to ask for help, but this goes beyond being in over their heads.
 
We are asking for help on behalf of our friends. It’s never easy to ask for this kind of help, especially when you have been independent for so long. Thank you in advance for any help and for sharing this to spread the word.
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Fundraising team (4)

Kathrine DeLash 
Organizer
Raised $370 from 3 donations
Canton, GA
Heather Michelle 
Beneficiary
Jenn Smallwood 
Team member
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