Stacy, over at golden bird knits, kindly directed my attention to Megan, a very sweet, and very sick woman needing some financial assistance for cancer treatments not covered by insurance. The story made me cry, but at the same time made me furious at the continued realization that our health care crisis in America has grown in proportions equal to a tsunami, that we drag sick individuals through cancer treatments, and then expect them to pay for those treatments at a time when they can't go back to work for being so sick and run down. Or worse, they do go back to work before they are able to, and further run their bodies down, keeping health and equilibrium at bay. Worse yet, those who try to take better care of themselves stay home from work, only to have the wolf knocking/scratching/barking (choose one) at the door for the money to pay the doctors, the hospitals, the pharmacies.
I was touched by Megan's friends. I was really amazed at how they were able to rally around her at a difficult time. I am in awe of all the emotional and financial support that came pouring out through the internet - people just wanting to be a part of Megan's experience - to help her get better, or in the least, worry less about the medical bills.
Have you or someone you love been touched by cancer? If so, you know how it can ravage the body, the family, any sense of balance you may have come to expect. You know how everything you've come to depend on is suddenly no longer consistent. Anything you hope for now has a different feel to it - perhaps more urgent, perhaps more overwhelming.
I was touched by Megan's story, because it hit very close to home.
Mother, wife, daughter, sister. Photographer, artist, gourmet cook, friend. An amazing eye for what is good and loving, what is balanced and special. Multi-tasker extraordinaire. Organized to a 'T'. Careful and mindful about how she moves through life. A 'real gem' in my book.
Lisa is my older sister. She is someone I love deeply, cherish, and someone I somehow hope to grow up to be 'just like'. When she discovered she had stage IV aggressive breast cancer last summer, I crumbled as she stood strong. While she talked about treatments and changes she'd have to make to her daily life, I listened as openly as I could, then fell apart after hanging up the phone. The pain I felt for her, being across the country and out of hug's reach, was palpable. The bouncing back and forth between treatment options, hospital options, what doctor to see, was dizzying. And then of course, there was the insurance issue -would they pay? Would they accept the treatment options she chose? They agreed to it all... on the phone.
Yet the year has passed and we have all grown tremendously, as one does when living through trauma. My mother and step-father dedicated an enormous amount of time throughout the year to help support the family through driving the carpool, cooking meals, teaching homeschooling lessons, among many other extremely important tasks. Without them, I know I couldn't have coped, much less my sister.
Cancer is ugly. It eats at you, and forces you to make decisions such as which part of your body will get cut away next for fear of it spreading. There is no time to consider the costs when fighting the oncology time bomb. But I wonder about the insurance companies who take it upon themselves to withdraw support midway through the treatment, because you change your job - just trying to make more money to actually pay the darn bills off. Or how about the fact that if you make more money, you get better drugs? That's a sad fact.
As a consequence, my sister has been left with an enormous amount ($30,000) of medical bills - more than any of us alone can make a dent in. She does not own a house, has all her other debt paid off, but is completely unable to work at this time to take care of the bills. Her husband is able to continue at his job, often with 60+ hour work weeks, but is only able to cover their daily living expenses with his salary. Yet daily, the bills arrive at their mailbox.
I am coming to you, my friends, with the hope that through our blog circles, we can put the word out for Lisa. I pledged to 'Look Out For Lisa' to help her manage her bills in whatever way I could. If you could see yourself clear to donate a small (or large) amount of money to her cause, the appreciation would be a thousand-fold. You would be doing a very good deed, and helping an incredible individual get back on her feet after a long and hard ride.
Lisa had a mastectomy a couple of months ago, and is now waiting for the final reconstructive surgery. She has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and is weighing future treatment options.
Please help me Look Out For Lisa. Please consider a donation. Please consider sending this post to everyone you know, and ask them to send it to everyone they know.
No donation is too small.
Together, we can make it happen.
No one should suffer more because of their medical bills.
The cancer is bad enough.