In early September Alison talked briefly about her doctor's request she go in for another mammogram. I advised her that is not unusual and figured everything was going to be all right. After her appointment she called me and said she had cancer. Shocked. We both were. She needed to go for additional testing, but based on the radiologist's reading, Alison had cancer. We took a breath and I assured her we got this and I'd be there however she needs me. Alison is divorced with two kids, ages 10 and 15. Fortunately, she moved five minutes from me and as a fellow single parent, we have each other's backs from lunches to appointments, and everything in between.
Alison has Breast Cancer, Stage 3A and it is in her right breast. The treatment track is 20 rounds of chemo then masectomy. Treatment started nearly as quickly as we learned it was cancer. Within four weeks of diagnosis.... round one began. We got her hair shaved off for an emotional preparation for if she did lose her hair, she did not want to see the clumps. Deep breath for the new look but I was so proud to see her courage to tackle cancer head on.
After her first round, things were as expected, nausea and exhaustion. Round two came and within four days we were in the emergency room because she was coughing and having difficulty breathing. Pneumonia. This brought her a five night stay in the hospital with no visitors welcomed after day two. Her white blood cell count was 0.4 when it needed to be at least 4.0. The kids and dog were handled as discussed if a situation rose where back up was needed. She came home late Monday, the week that was supposed to be back to work and feeling better because Friday round 3 was to begin. No work this week, and likely not next either. Her goal was to work as much as she could because she only has five weeks of short term disability and her course of treatment will be at least six months. She has summized to accept commiting to work, while keeping her strength up to combat the treatments will not work.
She will quickly get to short term disability pay exhaustion and her salary reduces to 65%. That percentage will barely keep her and the kids afloat. We did the math. After cutting expenses over the last year to conserve money for the "what ifs," and working a part time job, Alison sees the mountain of debt rising with the additional expense of her health. She is doing what she can to make additional adjustments but you can only squeeze so much from a turnip. She needs financial help. She is an amazing person, with an optimism and faith that is admirable. I want her to stay focused on taking care of herself and not adding stress about her finances. Although we are in the early miles of the marathon, she needs the water station. She needs financial help already.
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