Hey all! My name’s Michelle and I’m a US Army veteran battling now colorectal cancer.
First off, I want to encourage all veterans regardless of era to keep up with preventative cancer screenings; especially post-9/11 veterans with military toxic exposures to burn pits, PFAS, contaminated water, asbestos and other toxins.
Cancer rates amongst post 9/11 US veterans are alarmingly high when compared to civilian population
breast, brain, colorectal, blood, and brain). Thankfully, the US Senate passed the Honoring our PACT Act recently
extending presumptive VA benefits, increased staff and training and mandatory surveillance for veterans with military toxic exposures.
I’m lucky to be in high risk cancer surveillance group at VA due to previous history during active duty but received bad news at the end of May after a recent screening colonoscopy and have to colon resection this summer to treat (luckily) early stage, localized tumor. Final staging will be done after additional scans and surgery.
While I’m thankful that screening caught this relatively early, the surgery has a difficult 4-6 week recovery which will be more difficult in my case since I just completed lengthy intensive polytrauma rehabilitation at VA and NYU for 3 service connected TBI (traumatic brain injuries) and PTSD, amongst other combat and non-combat injuries.
I need help with post operative medical expenses
for activities of daily living (bathing, feeding, cooking), specialized diet (complicated by immune disorder), medical supplies for wound care, clothing and home adaptations, pet care and housekeeping/laundry assistance upon discharge to home since my recovery will be longer and more complicated due to ongoing issues with balance, coordination and cognitive issues due to the TBIs.
I will be losing income at the same I am incurring additional expenses
due to loss of stipend and MHA (monthly housing allowance) so greatly appreciate your support during this difficult time.
You can check out my previous efforts to improve VA disability processes
and my work and continued commitment to service at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
in New York where I'd been teaching part time until this diagnosis as part of my rehabilitation efforts.
Please share this with your networks and continue to hold Congress accountable for supporting veterans' health issues.