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The breast cancer battle is real. The news of diagnosis is hard to receive. Treatment is scary. And for some women, life has become nearly impossible. Marriages have ended. Jobs have been lost, or they're too sick to work. Now, in addition to fighting for their lives, they are battling to keep up with the most basic of bills: food, rent, utilities, gas, medical co-pays. It's heartbreaking.
That's why Provision Project was created. Provision Project makes a way for women in active breast cancer treatment to receive tangible help quickly. Will you join us?
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Shanna is a dedicated single mom to two beautiful kids, Resean and Reana. She loves helping people through her job as a healthcare worker. She's proud of being able to have a job that provides for her children and helps people with their medical needs.
A few months ago, Shanna got the news that changed her world forever. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. At 40 years old and being the head of a single-income household, Shanna moved from helping others to needing help herself. "I'm normally the one that everyone calls when they need help. This is a very different position to be in, having to ask for help," Shanna said.
With a growing mountain of medical bills, Shanna got the notice that her electricity would be turned off the next day. She had fallen behind in her payments, and she didn't know where to turn for help.
That very day, a representative from Provision Project's supporter, Valley Sleep Center, came to her office to deliver a plastic pink cup that included a flyer about Provision Project from VSC's owner and breast cancer survivor, Lauri Leadley. Just as Shanna was worrying about how to pay her utility bill, a solution appeared! After confirming that Shanna was a qualified candidate, Provision Project paid her past due bill and kept the lights on.
More About Shanna's Family: When Provision Project spoke with Shanna, she was overflowing with praise for children. Her 17-year-old son, Resean, is an avid football player, a good student, and holds down a weekend job. Her 12-year-old daughter, Reana, is a straight-A student who has been a tremendous help since Shanna's breast cancer diagnosis. Reana begged Shanna to stay overnight with her during her hospital stay, logs the output of Shanna's drains, and faithfully keeps the ice water pitcher filled. While Reana's "plans" are to become a lawyer, we wonder if she's not going to move into the healthcare field.
AN UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS GIFT
You're a single mom.
You have four children.
You have one vehicle.
You have stage 4 breast cancer.
The news from the doctors isn't good. You get word that the painful pleural effusion in your lungs means you need to have a catheter placed in your chest wall so the fluid causing your pain can drain.
And then your car breaks down. It has to be towed, leaving a puddle of coolant on the pavement where it was parked. The news from the mechanic isn't good: $650. Where will THAT come from?
This is Rachel's story. Rachel is 36 years old and has been living with breast cancer since 2013. Her kids, ages 16, 15, 12, and 6, have been living with breast cancer since then, too. They live in the Phoenix, Arizona, area.
When you have stage 4 breast cancer, treatment never stops. When one chemo regimen stops working, you're switched to another one that you pray stops the progression of the disease.
And the bills pile up. Most likely, a stage 4 gal dramatically cuts her work hours back. Or she may have to stop working altogether. Rachel works 8 hours a week when she's feeling up to it. She's not up to working this month. As the sole breadwinner in her family, it's an understatement to say that money is tight.
That's where Provision Project steps in. Yes, we could just call the mechanic and pay the bill. But we know that people are inherently good-hearted. They would like to help, but they sometimes need to know HOW to help.
A member of our leadership team went to talk with the service manager at AAA Arizona in Mesa, the auto repair shop where Rachel's car had been towed. He didn't know Rachel's story, so we shared it. And then we asked if we could work together to give Rachel and her kids a safe vehicle. We challenged him not to just think about repairing the coolant issue but to take a hard look at her vehicle and to repair what was essential on the car. He agreed to take a look at the vehicle and get back to us.
By the next day, Jeff, the AAA Arizona service manager, called us back to give us an update. Yes, the heater hose assembly needed to be replaced. He was willing to comp the service … and he had convinced his parts suppliers to comp the parts. Check. But there were a few more safety issues that needed to be handled. Control arms replaced. Check. Motor mounts replaced. Check. Sway bar bushings replaced. Check. Brake job. Check. Alignment. Check. Safe car. Check.
The repair came to $1964.68. Rachel's cost?
Jeff caught the vision. In one day, he had moved mountains! Once he understood Rachel's situation, he convinced his AAA management team and the folks at Factory Motor Parts and San Tan Ford to pitch in to help Rachel and her family. He did what he could. And he made a difference in the lives of Rachel's family. A BIG difference!
Provision Project was there when Rachel and the kids picked up her car from AAA Mesa. There wasn't a dry eye in the shop. And today Rachel told us that the car now runs so quietly, she can't even tell when it's running. Now she can focus on her kids instead of her car problems. Merry Christmas, Rachel!
(Rachel still needs two front tires, but we're working on that, too).
Provision Project's Helping Hands Program matches women who need home or auto service with small local businesses in many industries. If you know of a business that would like to be considered as a Helping Hands partner, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Provision Project serves women across the country.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT GROUNDED BY BREAST CANCER
With no family history of breast cancer, 42-year-old Heather, loving wife, mother of two little girls, Lyvea, 5, and Mylah, 3, and a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines, made a discovery that would change her life and the life of her family.
She had a normal mammogram just four months before the fateful day when she felt a pulling in her arm. While rubbing that area, she felt a marble sized lump in her left breast. "I was thinking, no way it was serious, but my gut told me different."
Heather made an appointment for an ultrasound mammogram, and then on Thursday, March 12, 2015, she had a biopsy. She received a call the next day from her doctor who said she had to come in right away. There she heard the news that would change her life. "It shook my core and my thoughts all went to my children," she said.
The next step was seeing a surgeon that Monday; so fast she thought. The diagnosis was triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer. "My options were slim. We had to move fast because of the fast growing nature of this cancer." Heather chose a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.
The news got worse. In April she had surgery, and when she woke from the anesthesia, she received the news that she was stage 3 … and had cancer beginning in the other breast. Fourteen lymph nodes were removed, and four were positive for cancer. "My life was never going to be viewed the same," she said. The plan was four months of chemo every two weeks and 33 radiation treatments. Since her OB/GYN found a spot on her ovary, she also had surgery to remove that before starting chemotherapy.
Heather was so sick from the chemo, and she barely had time to recover from one treatment before she was to have the next one. Their family had little help during that time. It was hard, but she said that her girls kept a smile in her heart even when she couldn't put a smile on her face. Heather finished her radiation on November 20, 2015.
Financially Heather's family was hit pretty hard. She provided half of their family's income and wasn't able to work during treatment. They sold her husband's truck and camping trailer to pay the mortgage and doctor bills. Heather shared, "In the beginning, the money was THE most stressful part of it. When you go through something like cancer, that is the last thing you need to be stressed about. We have been so blessed to have been helped by many organizations in different ways, and Provision Project has been one that has really made an impact. They paid my car loan one month, which was no small feat, and the most incredible thing was that they also provided Christmas gifts for our family. We got to choose something that we wanted. On Christmas morning, we were all opening gifts that were all surprises we had not seen. They were wrapped and delivered with so much love. I am so grateful for Provision Project and these wonderful people who have come into our lives."
Now that she is done with her treatments, her goal is to help others through her experience. "You learn what is needed out there, and giving is the best medicine of all," she said. Heather and her daughters have done volunteer work, and she is working on programs with the non-profits who helped their family. Heather says her husband, Ted, has learned to lighten up more and live for the day. As much as she hated her girls to see what she went through, she feels it has given them much compassion and a better understanding of what life is truly about. "There were a couple of times I thought I was truly dying, and when you are that far gone, you feel at peace with it. But I was never comfortable thinking of how my girls would feel, waking up to me being gone, and I think that's what pulled me through,"
Heather went back to work in March 2016. She is still very tired but otherwise feeling good. "I have started feeling like me again, which I thought was totally lost."