Help a Caregiver "Peyton" His Bills

For nearly 11 years I've lived with the diagnosis of a chronic illness. In just over a decade I've been billed more than a million dollars for exams, imaging, scopes, surgery, infusion treatments, and oral medication. Throughout all this, my parents have been my biggest support system. Living at home during this time has allowed me to prioritize my health; had I been on my own all these years, I don't know how I would've been able to do that. I probably wouldn't be working, and I know I wouldn't have the health care I need to survive.

Being single through all of this, a recurring question on my mind was always, "Who would want to take this on?" I was convinced I'd never find someone who'd care about me enough to sign up for this rollercoaster ride. But 2018 proved me wrong. This year I met Connor. 

Connor (patiently) waited three weeks for our first date when I was overwhelmed by the colonoscopy, infusion, and several doctor appointments I had scheduled. He then waited another two to three weeks for our second date when I still wasn't feeling well. When we were supposed to meet for dinner, he read between the lines in my texts; he said I didn't really seem up for going out and proposed a couch date instead. And when I had a panic attack heading out to meet his friends for the first time, they pushed their dinner reservation to wait for me.

After eight years dragging one parent or the other to Remicade infusions, I figured I'd eventually have to go it solo. And then Connor came along and offered to sit through treatments with me. I said no the first time, partly because I was so taken aback. Why would anyone willingly spend three hours in an infusion suite? I guess I was afraid he'd jump out of the seat when the the rollercoaster was about to barrel down the track. But when I finally let him come along for the ride, he never let go of my hand. And it's been the biggest comfort knowing I don't have to close my eyes for the scary parts anymore because I know I'll always have someone sitting next to me.

Exhibit A:

Over the past few weeks it's been Connor's turn to be the patient and my turn to be the caregiver. He's been fighting through debilitating headaches, disorienting dizzy spells, and excessive fatigue, making it hard to work at the computer all day—which isn't really optional since he works in IT. We've been through urgent care, neurology, the lab, and imaging. He's had a full eye exam. Next up are an ENT and his PCP. Even though he's been scared and frustrated, he's never stopped checking to make sure I'm okay.

I had to push Connor to seek medical attention. At first I thought he was just stubborn. Then I realized how fortunate I've been to have great health care and no rent to pay all these years. Connor's deductible is $3,000, and his out-of-pocket max is $6,000. This means his insurance won't contribute until he's laid out $3,000, and he'll spend at least $6,000 before he's covered in full. Hearing these numbers made my heart sink. Connor's decision of whether to have an MRI of his brain almost came down to a choice between paying for a place to live or paying medical bills.

I've told Connor it's okay to need help, but I know he won't ask for it himself because he doesn't want to inconvenience or burden the people in his life. So I've decided to ask for help on his behalf. I want to hold his hand through the ups and downs, just as he's been doing for me, so I'm trying to help however I can. I'm setting an ambitious goal of covering his deductible over time, but anything you're willing to give—even just a few dollars—would be so helpful.

Many of you have told me I seem so happy lately. And I have been—thanks to Connor. So now I'm asking for your help because...

I just want to be there for him
And maybe shoulder some of it if I can
He has enough on his plate as it is
I want to at least be something positive and put a smile on his face

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Organizer and beneficiary

Keri Ann Flaccomio 
Paramus, NJ
Connor Peyton 

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