But, I need more help recovering from cancer and its treatment than I realized. One day I woke up and understood that while I am in remission, I have not recovered, not by a long shot. There have been days when I’ve wondered if it made sense to save my life only to be left exhausted and in debilitating pain.
Truth is, I didn’t think cancer would be so hard. I have lupus and other chronic health issues that I’ve been dealing with since I was a teenager. Cancer seemed rather straightforward: in my case, with “Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer,” a fairly unusual and highly aggressive cancer, it’s equally aggressive chemotherapy or about six months of survival. I’m not through with life yet, so I chose chemo, and thankfully, it beat the cancer back.
I also had a double mastectomy and there were complications, something I didn’t know happened. There is much I didn’t know about cancer and its treatment and in order to get through each day without being overwhelmed, it was necessary to not question too much. And there is much no one tells you (too much). There is one focus: saving your life.
Insurance paid for most of the saving-my-life part, and for that I am, of course, grateful. But, insurance doesn’t pay for quality of life treatment, and it pays for very limited physical therapy. It doesn’t pay for massage, or acupuncture, or the special shoes and post-surgical garments that I’ve needed. It doesn’t pay for specialists if your local physical therapists don’t know about “axial web syndrome,” a nasty post-surgical condition that I have.
I could go on and list all the health issues that need addressing. I tried to be stoic and make do with just the services that my insurance paid for and the slow leaching of financial resources paying for bare minimum of things that it didn’t. It’s three surgeries later, one more to go, and I am hurting so much, pretty much unable to get back to living life. I had one massage and what a difference it made! I had done myself a disservice for months trying to make do.
So now, I turn to you, asking for help. Help me get the rehabilitation services I need so that I can get back to the business of living as fully as I can. And when I do, I'll be out there, doing some activism. . .a lot of what I've been through is just not right and people have got to speak out. I just don't have the strength or energy yet.
We all need help from time to time. If lack of resources is the only thing between me and a better life, it’s time for me to ask for help. I know I love giving, but it’s hard to receive. I’m taking that chance, that leap, and finally loving myself enough to do so.
Thanks so much in advance for whatever you contribute. And if you have any service that you think that can be of help, let me know. If you don’t live near me, think about offering your services pro bono to a cancer patient or survivor. We need a lot of TLC! And while we may seem fine, 80% of us have some form of PTSD. Yeah, I may be smiling and laughing and happy to see you (‘cause I am!) but this is a tough road!
Thanks for reading. Thanks for being there.
Much, much love, Julie
- Ruth Hartman
- Elba Sugoli
- Tarik Shapli
- Abby Gilchrist
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