My husband Wayne and I have recently returned from ten days in Calgary, helping our friends Isaac and Robyn Cabrera with all that they have to deal with.  But they could really use more help!  They are quite worried about what lies ahead for their family, as it is uncertain when Isaac will be able to work again. Their current situation has them struggling to make ends meet. Their rent and groceries are basically all that they’ve been able to afford since the end of August. The cost of utilities, car payments, gas, insurance, clothing and medical expenses are all piling up.  Every donation that is made via Go Fund Me will be given directly to the Cabrera family to help with their household bills.

Here is their story …

On August 24, Isaac was severely injured in a work accident when he suffered 3rd degree burns to both of his feet.  He was in excruciating pain, even while on morphine, and was unable to walk.  For weeks, he had to go back and forth to the hospital to have his dressings changed, which in itself was an excruciatingly painful experience each time.  He is starting to get around better now but still has a way to go.  In addition to his physical struggles, every evening around the time of the accident, his anxiety level increases, and during the night he wakes up several times unable to breathe, his body reliving the experience of falling into a restaurant deep fryer while cleaning the vent above it.  While the deep fryer was covered during the vent cleaning, clearly something went wrong to allow the cover to move while he was working on top of it.

After waiting 2 weeks for a hospital bed, Isaac had surgery on Sept 13th. The plastic surgeon had expected that skin grafting would be necessary. However, once they were in the operating room, it was determined that there was enough regrowth occurring that instead they would perform debridement - the cleaning and removal of dead tissue from the burn area - increasing Isaac’s pain level again.  Never having had surgery before in his life, the mental challenge of going through it and subsequently staying in the hospital, took another toll on him.

Add to that, his concern for his wife Robyn, who was 36 weeks pregnant at the time of the accident, and had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes back in July.

They were very fortunate to have Robyn’s family living close by, providing emotional support and helping with many, many rides to various necessary appointments for both Robyn and Isaac.  Additionally, they were blessed with a church family that, for over a month, supplied them with evening meals several times a week.  Robyn worked hard to control her diabetes through diet, and until the accident and her final month of pregnancy, had been passing with flying colours.  However, having meals brought to them made it more challenging to maintain a strict eating regimen, so on October 6th, when baby Joseph Theodore was born, he weighed a whopping 9 lbs 14 oz. and Robyn ended up needing a C-section.

This meant that for several weeks following the birth, Robyn had difficulty walking and was also unable to drive.  With very little sleep, she continued to take care of her husband’s needs, her newborn baby AND their 5 year old son, Josiah, who, due to all the circumstances in their lives, hadn’t been able to go out much and was getting cabin fever.

If that wasn’t enough to deal with, the basement in their rented townhouse flooded, not just once but three times between the accident, the surgery, and the baby’s arrival.  It wasn’t until the landlord agreed to send a camera down the sewer line that they discovered a blockage, not in their unit, but 50 feet further away.

Their townhouse has stairs, lots and lots of stairs, which was fine for them any other time, but after an injury like Isaac had, it became increasingly difficult for him to get around.  He had to crawl on his knees just to get to the bathroom and the only bedrooms were on the top level.  All his necessary appointments seemed endless.  Initially no one provided him with a wheelchair to get back and forth, until Robyn finally insisted.  

The physiotherapy provided during Isaac’s hospital appointments weren’t improving his situation, so Isaac went to their regular physiotherapist/chiropractor.

After assessing the damage to Isaac’s feet, he strongly believes that Isaac may have to find a different line of work where he isn’t standing on his feet the entire shift.  In fact, he felt Isaac would need months yet to heal properly and advised him to be very cautious that he doesn’t tear anything (that would require further surgery), so driving is still not recommended.  WCB, however, declined payment for the physiotherapy he was getting there because it’s from a chiropractor. So after just two sessions, where he actually saw improvement, Isaac stopped going because he wouldn’t be able to afford treatment 2 to 3 times a week for at least six weeks.  The assessment as to his mental state is still in process and until it is completed (by the psychologist he is seeing at the burn clinic), WCB is unaware that he has severe PTSD.  Based on the information the caseworker has, WCB has informed Isaac that he is expected to return to his previous work place by Dec 11.  You can imagine how stressful and untenable this situation has become for him.  Not only is he struggling with untreated PTSD, but now his family is at risk of losing any financial assistance from WCB, since it’s unlikely that he could safely return to his former job.  It could take him weeks, if not months, to go through retraining and find other employment.  Isaac wants to go back to work, and as soon as possible, so he has already been looking into other possibilities and opportunities but without success so far.

Of course WCB was involved from the beginning and has been helping, within the allowed parameters, but uncertainty about the continuation of coverage has caused additional stress for the family.  I have taken over as their representative, to reduce some of the pressure on them, especially in case we need to go through the appeal process or even end up getting a lawyer involved.  Unfortunately, Isaac’s job was part time (20 hrs per week) and WCB can only pay him a percentage of those earnings, so Isaac and Robyn are unable to afford their basic living expenses on this reduced income.

In the meantime, Robyn had planned that by November she would return to her work as a private music teacher but that was before the accident and her C-section. Because Robyn is self-employed, she does not qualify for any maternity pay or benefits.  Currently, she has 13 students and is hoping to be teaching again before Christmas but her income will still not be enough to cover their basic expenses of $2400 per month.  Our goal is to supplement Robyn’s income until Isaac is able to return to suitable work.  That means they would need at least $1500 per month for the next few months, and that won’t cover any unexpected expenses or help them recover from how far they’ve fallen behind since the accident.

Along with the lack of sleep (for both of them), the accident, the surgeries, uncertainty with WCB, and trying to maintain a normal home life for their 5 year-old son - the stress of all of this, especially their finances, has left them struggling to cope.

We deeply appreciate everyone who is taking the time to read their story, and please share it, so we can get the word out to others who would like to help.  We will be extremely grateful to anyone who is able to contribute, even in a small way.  Every dollar will make a positive difference in their lives, so let’s try to show them how much other people care.


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Organizer and beneficiary

Tabea Schiewe 
Calgary, AB
Robyn Cabrera 
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