Life-saving Surgery for Teacher Rae

I am reaching out to my friends and my network of colleagues because a fellow educator, mental health counselor, and genuinely empathetic and giving person needs our help. Rae has an impossible financial burden that no one should have to shoulder due to a lifesaving medical procedure. Rae has lasting injuries from childhood physical abuse; one such injury required surgery to ensure she did not experience further complications or the eventuality of a brain hemorrhage. I love Rae dearly, and she is always the person to step in and help others in need, but in this instance, she needs our help. You can read an open letter from her below. Thank you for assisting in any way you can.




Last year, I received some difficult news. Because of having my nose broken on two, separate, occasions by an abusive caregiver some 27 years ago, I have a small hole (approximately 1 -1.5 cm) in my skull. It has to be repaired, quite urgently as you might imagine. I’ve known about it for a year, but (atop the pandemic) not many surgeons are familiar with the condition, and even fewer perform the corrective procedure with any degree of success.


After some phone calls to Mayo Clinic and talking with surgeons in three different countries, I found one who has a very high success rate and can perform the surgery endoscopically. I waited several months for an opening and was told just last week that there is an opening; I have surgery this Wednesday.


The realisation that I had lasting damage from this injury was devastating...a constant and nagging reminiscence of the life I lived for over a decade and have desperately tried to forget. I’ve been to therapy. I’ve processed. I am a mental health counsellor and teacher. I know that no child is responsible for being neglected, abused, or taken advantage of. Still, this crushed my sense of self, my self-esteem, my hard-fought optimism, everything. Compounding this is the mounting pressure of debt to undergo a lifesaving procedure. In the US, this procedure costs over $40,000. The two or three surgeons who perform the surgery do not work with insurance providers.


I found a surgeon willing to help who is the best possible choice; he has written several textbooks on reconstructive surgery and is published in various medical journals (he once gave a man his sight back after a transorbital injury). I’m very lucky to have found him. Because of this surgeon and his clinic, I only have to pay $18,000-19,000. However, this is quite a bit more than my current life savings and I will be unable to resume work for some time.


I ran away from home at fifteen because of the aforementioned circumstances. I’ve always managed. My bills and tuition have always been paid by working two or three jobs while attending university. But I can’t manage this on my own. I hate to ask, and I hesitated to make my private affairs public, but if you can help at all, I’d be eternally grateful.




Susan Martenson
Livingston, MT

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