Living Beyond Breast Cancer Fund provides help when money is tight: Lourdes
The Living Beyond Breast Cancer Fund provides one-time grants to women in active treatment for breast cancer and facing financial hardship. These grants go toward vital expenses such as rent and utilities. In January, the Tutu Project of the Carey Foundation provided a $70,000 grant to the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Fund to help provide assistance to women in need.
Lourdes*, a single mother of two living with metastatic breast cancer, received a Living Beyond Breast Cancer Fund grant in 2019. She wrote about the financial stress she has been under during breast cancer treatment and how the LBBC Fund helped.
When I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in May 2018, all I thought about was my children and how this was going to affect them. My focus was to follow my oncologist’s plan for treatment and to stay alive for my children. I knew that the treatments were going to be difficult, but I had to fight this disease with all my strength. My treatment was began with 4 months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and radiation. Currently, my oncologist has me on an immunotherapy medicine called pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and a chemotherapy called eribulin (Halaven), which has been working well for me.
Eventually, the side effects became so bad that I had to leave my job as a preschool teacher, which I loved. Before my diagnosis, I had finally gotten my teaching certificate to continue working for the school district. It was a passion I had been working so hard for. My life turned upside down when I could no longer do the job I loved.
It took a toll on me financially too. I had to apply for Social Security benefits, but they were not near the same as what I had been earning at the school. Just keeping up with the expenses I already had was going to be difficult. I had to tighten our budget and ask for accommodations where I could. I spoke with my apartment manager and was fortunate that they could lower my rent when I showed them a proof of hardship. It was tough to make these changes but it was something that had to be done and my children were very understanding.
I also worry about how the financial strain will affect my children. I’m not able to afford life insurance for burial expenses and to leave them with something to get by. This is not what I want for my children. Knowing that I can’t help them with their future education can feel overwhelming.
Everything has been put on hold in service of my treatment. My daughter works part time because it gives her more time to take me for treatments. I had to place my son in an online high school program that allows him to do his work from home. Learning from home helps relieve the stress from being overloaded with class work and eases his anxieties about my condition.
The challenges of having this disease are overwhelming, all I can do is just take it one day at a time. Something that has helped me was a grant from Living Beyond Breast Cancer that helped pay some expenses for a month, which helped ease my anxieties when I did not have enough for groceries and other bills.
In November 2019, the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Fund helped me in my time of need. It came at a critical time: my budget was tight because I wasn't receiving child support payments on time. The grant helped me pay my rent and avoid late fees and to continue receiving internet service, needed for my son's home-school service online and to stay connected with my patient portal. It relieved the stress having the utilities turned off. It was a blessing to receive the help that I needed. I was very grateful for LBBC for being here for me and my children.
*Some identifying information withheld by request