Column: A little help from my friends

Back in March, while I was waiting on results from a biopsy to determine whether I had breast cancer, someone close to me made a joke. He was trying to convince me that the bad thing likely happening to me wasn’t actually happening.
“You can’t have cancer,” he said. “You can’t afford to have cancer.”
He was half right. Yes, I did have cancer, and no, I can’t afford it. I don’t think most people are financially prepared to pay for cancer treatment.
But cancer didn’t check my bank account or credit score before it decided to take up residence in my body.
Even before my diagnosis, the thought of having cancer scared me, not so much because I thought I would die, but because I knew it would wreak havoc on my finances.
This week my best friend and running partner gave me something incredible. She set up an online fundraiser in my name to offset the cost of my medical bills.
I don’t relish having to go to my friends and neighbors to ask for help. My pride says I should be able to pay for it myself, no matter how long it might take me.
The truth is I have better health insurance now than I’ve had my entire adult life. I’m better off financially this year than I have been before. I know I’m faring better financially through this pandemic than some others are. I’m grateful for that.
Still, between chemotherapy treatment and surgeries, medical bills have been piling up around me, and treatment is not over yet. I’ve been paying on the bills as I can.
While I hated someone having to ask for help on my behalf, I was blown away by the results of the fundraiser. In about a day, it had exceeded the goal of $5,000 that she set for me. And donations were still trickling in.
I’m not sure what cancer treatment will cost me before it’s all over. But for now, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to not have to worry about my medical bills. I can focus on beating this disease, not my credit score.
Donations came from all over — friends, relatives, people I know through social media, lots of former journalism colleagues and a few sources. Some were from strangers or acquaintances that I’d met before but only in passing. Many were people I know from Charleston.
It was just another example to me of how much this community has cared for me during my cancer treatment. I cannot overstate how much people have done to help me since my cancer treatment started. They’ve brought meals and sent care packages. They’ve checked in with me and sent me cards and well wishes.
As I wrote in a Facebook post recently, when this is over, I think the thing that will stick with me is not how difficult chemotherapy has been. What I’ll remember is how much my community was there for me when I needed it and how much I am loved.
Thank you for that. I will not forget it.

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