Just 1 year ago, Susan was a hard-working manager of a luxury apartment building—commuting to New York every day for her demanding job—and enjoying a busy social life full of activities. Little did she know events were to unfold that would dramatically change her life.
Susan had been feeling some chronic back pain for a while. In July 2018, she finally went to have it checked out, thinking perhaps she had a slipped disc or some arthritis. To her shock, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma —a blood cancer that causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bones, causing bone pain and increasing risk for fractures and infections.
She immediately began treatment with a cocktail of chemo, steroids, immunomodulators and bisphosphonates, with a goal of getting her into remission. She also underwent surgery on her spine to “glue” the degenerated bone back together. Throughout this ordeal she was able to continue working and, happily, the cancer went into remission. The recommended next step in her treatment is a possible stem cell transplant. This would require another round of intense chemotherapy and would require 2-4 weeks in a sterile hospital unit and weeks to months of recovery.
Unfortunately, the impact of the cancer treatment on her body has been profound. Susan developed intractable pain in her bones and legs, severe muscle weakness, and neuropathy, which paradoxically results in both shooting nerve pain and numbness. In a matter of weeks, she became unable to stand, with intolerable pain despite the medications that leave her dazed and foggy. To prevent her leg muscles from atrophy, Susan is getting physical therapy, but the pain is excruciating and debilitating.
Susan lives alone in a 2nd floor walk-up apartment. She has not been able to leave her apartment since the beginning of the year. She can only move about with a walker when she has the strength and is totally dependent on others for basic care. Her family & friends come over to help her bathe and shop for her groceries, drive her to doctor appointments, and assist her with other things that we just take for granted. And she is taking 10 different medications daily.
Because of her treatment regimen and inability to walk unassisted, Susan has been unable to work. As a result, she has exhausted all her paid time off, and has been living without pay for more than 3 months. While she just began receiving short-term disability, the disability payments do not come close to covering her basic living expenses for rent and food, much less her mounting medical bills. She remains optimistic that she will eventually regain her functions, but she has a very long road to travel before she can consider returning to work. And even then, she will likely still have to undergo the stem cell treatment and all that it entails, creating more uncertainty for her.
As you can imagine, this has been an incredible emotional and financial strain for Susan. While her family & friends will continue to visit her to assist her with her basic care, she needs our help and financial support to get her through this difficult time. Thank you so much for considering a donation—no matter how big or how small, it is greatly appreciated!
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