Let me tell you first about this remarkable lady whom I have had the honor to live next door to for almost 6 years.
Her name is Sandra Newman. 32 years ago Sandra gave birth to a beautiful little boy named Zachary. Little did she know that at Zach's age of 10, her life would change forever when he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a muscle wasting disease. Zach and his mom were told that he wouldn't make it out of his teen years, but defying all odds, and being a mother who would not give up, Zach has beaten those odds. Despite being unable to eat or breath on his own, Zach has a quality of life that beats some people I know because Sandra has never given up on him.
Zach and his mom live together in a mobile home in Mesa, AZ. As primary caregiver, Sandra has done everything she can to retrofit their home in order to make it easier for her and Zach to live. 9 hours of skilled nursing is provided to Zach and Sandra so she can sleep. She is on her own from 6am to 9pm everyday when a skilled nurse comes in from 9pm to 6am to care for all of Zach's needs and allow Sandra can get much needed downtime and sleep. She has been doing this for the last 20+ years. Sandra's husband and father to Zach was taken abruptly when he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. This is a type of dementia that takes over very quickly and results in death. He passed away 4 years ago, leaving Sandra and Zach by themselves.
Along with a skilled nurse caring for Zachary, she has 2 beautiful dogs that are both rescues. Noel, a mutt, was rescued from a home where 6 marines lived who were on the go all the time and was kept her in a kennel the majority of the time. Noel is the comfort dog and senses when Zach is not having a good day and she will go in without being told and will lay down in Zach's bed with him to comfort him and help him work through whatever emotional issues Zach is dealing with. The other dog, Paris, is the alarm dog. About a year ago, Paris came in to Sandra's bedroom where she was laying down to rest and Paris began whining, letting her know that something was wrong with Zach. Sandra ran into Zach's room and sure enough, a respiratory therapist who was checking on Zach's ventilator settings had shut off Zach's ventilator causing Zach to almost die. Paris had saved his life.
Approximately 3 weeks ago Sandra came to me and told me that she had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. My heart sank. How could such a wonderful lady who has done so much in her life, been thrown so many curve balls, been tested by God so much in her life be dealt with this card, how much more can this woman take?
The doctor is taking a very aggressive approach to treating this by ordering 6 rounds of chemo treatments, one treatment every 3 weeks. She started her treatment last week and quickly realized that she's going to need some additional help. By the second day after her first chemo she was completely immobile, the pain was so horrendous that she couldn't even get out of bed.
Realizing that she's going to need additional help, she contacted the State of AZ insurance case manager who oversees Zach's services. When she requested some additional nursing hours for when she goes in for her chemo treatments - the insurance denied her request, stating that she was already well into her alotted respitehours for the year and were afraid that she would blow through the hours before the end of the year.
So where does this leave her? She needs assistance with Zach because she is unable to provide the same level of care that she has been giving him, while she is going through chemo. She has asked a friend and skilled nurse to help her during the worst of the treatment and recovery and will have to pay for that assistance herself.
The goal that I have set is the bare minimum of what it would cost for private pay for the additional hours needed of respite care, which would have to be paid out of her pocket at a rate of $15.00 an hour.
I am asking to please find it in your heart to help Sandra out - even if it's just $15.00 - which pays for one hour of respite care for Zach.
- Mother's Grace
- Joan Ponthier-Garcia