Julie vs Breast Cancer & Lupus

THIS PAGE IS FOR MY YOUNGER SISTER JULIE.   ONCE A VIBRANT GIRL AND YOUNG WOMAN WITH DREAMS AND HOPES...NONE OF WHICH INVOLVED LIVING LIFE CHRONICALLY ILL. THIS HER STORY.... FIRST IT WAS LUPUS..... Back in my twenties, I started having debilitating vertigo. It wasn't just feeling dizzy or off. It was high speed room spinning vertigo, that wiped me out for days on end. At that time I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease of the inner ear. It was advised that I be monitored for lupus or RA & was told that what I had was a precursor to both of those diseases. Through surgery (to place a shunt in my inner ear) I was able to manage the illness. As I got into my 30's, my kids were in their teens & I wanted to get back to working. I'd only been working a short time when I developed the onset of Systemic Lupus. My lupus was extremely flared upon onset. It affected heart, lungs, kidneys, blood, & joints. I couldn't make it up our steps without my husband standing behind me helping. Often times I couldn't even get out of bed. My body ravaged with high fever & low white count. I knew I could no longer work. THE FINANCIAL BURDEN MOUNTS.... At that time I tried to get disability benefits, only to be told that because I stayed home raising my kids all those years, I was not eligible to receive benefits. I simply didn't have enough work credits.  Even though we struggled on one average income, I didn't qualify for need based disability either. Over the years we've struggled meeting living expenses  on one income, not to mention the the additional financial burden of treating my Lupus and RA. My lupus has never been completely in remission & it's mentally & physically exhausting to always be sick.  I've attempted to go back to work more than once, only to end up very sick. NOW...ANOTHER BURDEN TO BEAR..... BREAST CANCER! On January 8th after a routine mammogram, diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, & biopsy I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I was informed I have two, 1.1 centimeter tumors & a third area that's Ductal Carcinoma In-situ. (Meaning it's still contained within the duct & not spread to fatty tissue). It's stage 1 grade 3 triple positive breast cancer. I will have surgery, chemo, & radiation. I will have a port in my chest for a year & a half to receive Herceptin infusions, & take hormone suppressing drugs for 5 years. At 48 years old dealing with Systemic Lupus, I never thought in a million years I'd have cancer on top of it. Trying to cope with being sick most of my adult life & then get cancer on top of it is very difficult. I'm going to strive to find the positives in life & I'm determined to beat this cancer. WHAT DO WE DO NOW? As if the financial burden wasn't bad enough all these years of me being sick, we are now facing tremendous expenses. We have medical insurance, but face very high deductibles, ($2500 for drugs & $6500 for medical) and insurance doesn't cover 100%. MY HUSBAND WORKS AS MUCH AS HE CAN.... 12 hour shifts & as much as 72 hours a week. However, he often can't get the overtime & needs to care for me. Even with overtime, we struggle to pay all these medical bills. I DON'T WANT TO BE DEFINED BY ILLNESS..... I have a loving husband & two beautiful children who are now adults (ages 27 & 23). I want to beat this cancer & in the process, hopefully calm my lupus into remission. I'm 48 years old, & I've got way too much life ahead of me. I've been dealt this hand & I must find a way to get through this. It's hard enough to realize the grueling treatment process that it will take to get through this, but the current and upcoming medical expenses weighs heavy on both my husband & I.  And God knows that isn't a healthy worry for either of us. It's frustrating to be told I do not qualify for disability benefits, when I felt I made the right choice to be a stay at home mom, (and raise my kids) all those years ago. I'M SO EXTREMELY GRATEDUL FOR ANY HELP AND PRAYERS AND I BELIEVE IN PAYING IT FORWARD ONE DAY WHEN I AM HEALTHY ENOUGH TO DO SO.  THANK YOU.  Attachments area    
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Organizer and beneficiary

Jeff Howard
Menomonee Falls, WI
Julie Ramirez

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