My name is Ellen Petras, and this is far from the most comfortable thing I have ever done, but..I don't know where else to turn but to the kindness of strangers who may hear my story and be willing to help.
I know I am but one of many who, in the last couple of years, have found themselves in situations that are not really of their own making and present all kind of challanges. In my case, the issues are related to medical problems I have been dealing with over the last eighteen months. For years, I had a degenerative problem with my right knee, which continued to develop to the point where I often found it difficult to walk, sit or stand, and finally, I had to have my right knee replaced. Though difficult, given our financial circumstances, I knew this was going to happen someday and we planned as best we could for the significant expenses that would be incurred. Some of those we were able to pay outright, and some we are still, and will be for some time to come, paying for under agreements with various service providers. Unfortunately, after a poor recovery and recuperation, it was determined that the knee replacement had to be redone, and I was forced into surgery a second time, with an additional set of expenses that were totally unexpected. At the same time, the first knee replacement caused a misalignment that resulted in severe back issues which entailed yet more doctor's visits, more hospital tests and ongoing physical therapy and ... yes...more expenses. But again, we paid what we could, made arrangemets for the remainder, and I never would have thought of asking for anyone's help at that point.
However, 2013 was even a more difficult year, though I never could have imagined that would be possible. First, in the midst of all the above issues, my husband, Michael, very unexpectedly became part of the epidemic of job cuts and we faced almost a year of unemployment. Then in November, while still dealing with prior medical issues, I became ill and had to be hospitalized twice, the second time requiring emergency surgery. Though an entirely different issue was originally communicated to me, when the pathology reports came back just before Thanksgiving, I was told I had an advanced stage of ovarian cancer, which required me to begin chemotherapy immediately, and I have now almost completed my first round. So many issues, so many stories, but I try very hard to stay positive. I wish it were only the emotional and physical toll that has to be dealt with from hearing that kind of news and with the unpleasantness of the chemotherapy treatments, but the financial issues weigh heavier and heavier on our minds as expenses continue to mount. I am fortunate to have health insurance; however, my out of pocket expenses are still rapidly nearing five figures after only a few months, and I still have a long arduous road ahead. I have only two chemo treatments remaining in this go around, them more tests, scans and additional major surgery to be followed by more chemotherapy.
My oncology/surgical team is very optimistic that remission is a real possibilty and I KNOW I will reach it. Even in the face of all of the issues, I am doing my best to keep a positive outlook, because I truly believe that being positive is as important as everything else I am undertaking, but the financial obligations are continuing to rise. So, Michael and I find this experience very humbling, more that I can put into words, but we are asking for your help. As I stated at the beginning, though I have had help from some very wonderful friends, I now place myself in your hands, those who have taken the time to read my story. If you are able to donate any amount, along with your thoughts and prayers, we offer our sincere and heartfelt thanks. If you feel inclined to pass this site on to those you know who might be interested as well, that would be fantastic!
- Frances Michulka
- Gayle Schnurr
- Frances Michulka
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