Mine is a case of survival in terms of cancer but devastation from the effects of the disease. I am alive but my life and body are destroyed. It’s the little comfort of my home (and my dog…..recently diagnosed with ALS like condition) that give me reason to live. The determination and survival drive amaze my great doctors but I suffer in silence. I am beyond desperate to save my home.
I find myself in a struggle I never could have imagined. Retelling the circumstances is painful and humbling but I am desperately out of options and I do not know where to turn.
I have been at the mercy of cancer and treatment and living with physical changes I do not recognize. Consequently, I am losing my home for unpaid real estate taxes. I believed I’d be able to pull myself out of the slide but it seems that, despite actual breaks in some regards, I just cannot cure this financial crisis in the time I have. I work and have throughout but repeated setbacks have taken the ultimate toll.
The blame for this crisis could easily be put on cancer but it is difficult to accept that. My first cancer diagnosis was August 2011. I came through that ten month ordeal fairly unscathed, or so I thought. I was out of work for eight weeks, had excellent health insurance and chose to be a model “survivor”. This happened to be the year I moved to my own home, living alone for the first time in my life.
The next year (2013) I was diagnosed with a second cancer, stage zero. I was determined to breeze through this without resentment. I had bought a home and was just beginning to settle so treatment began four months later when I was, again, out of work for eight weeks. Because I am a state employee I do not have employer provided disability insurance. At the same time it was becoming clear that the house I had purchased had been misrepresented and would need a good amount of work. I intended to get back to full health nd make it right, disappointed not defeated. I was realizing the challenges of being alone. I have no family, children, siblings or other. It was taking its toll.
Within weeks of returning to work I began having new symptoms I could not ignore. It took months to diagnose but the gynecological cancer was found with enexpected colorectal at the same time. Two more cancers within three years. All of 2015 was spent treating these with much radiation and chemo, working all but then weeks following the abdominal surgery. I lost much strength and hope this year. I kept on just the same.
At the beginning of 2016 I was devastated to learn the cancer remained. It was stage four and I was told there was no further treatment. Skip to the good news in this chronicle. I sought help at another cancer center, entered a clinical trial and was disease free by September. My spirit was restored and I began to think of the future.
In 2017 I had to have major abdominal reconstruction to address the damage that was done by radiation of the previous treatment. We had conquered the cancer but I was very physically destroyed. When it was suggested that I stop working I denied any possibility. I was vastly behind financially and was trying to be optimistic about being able to recover.
With my home being most important in my life I struggled to get a payment plan with the county for my taxes in arrears. This meant an additional $2000 every three months. I was sure I could find the strength with determination to keep my home.
And now, in 2018, while pushing to get back on track, I was struck one more time. The first week of last year we found another breast cancer, the result of radiation in 2011! Angiosarcoma is rare and aggressive but with what I’d survived I wasn’t ready to quit. This surgery was extensive and took me out of work for eighteen weeks. It was then that I defaulted in the property tax agreement and began the downward spiral.
I continue to work as much overtime as I am physically able but with a large sum from taxes in arrears, in addition to past years’ taxes, I am beyond what I can pay in a sum or borrow. I’ve attempted to sell but moving and managing this all alone seems insurmountable. There are no hardship options. I am disgraced by what this has become and five cancers in eight years carries little weight in financial survival terms. I have exhausted all options. I cannot ask acquaintances for such funds. I actually disclose my plight to very few people for a number of reasons. It is excruciating to hear people’s reaction to my medical maladies. People do judge. It is defeating to hear others make it sound so hopeless that it questions whether you should be alive. The attitude toward cancer is defeatist bit suppirtive in my singlehanded struggle to survive. I can’t stand being labeled or reminded of how unfortunate this is.
So I’m at a total loss and I’m hoping the kindness of people I don’t even know, in a last resort, will give promise and get me through so Sheldon, my nurse of a dog, and I will be able to keep our home. And remain cancer free. And pay it back to the next soul in need to keep faith.