In August of 2013, I was busy. I was working as a prosecutor handling cases involving murder, burglary, armed robbery, and rape. I was married with 2 active girls, one about to start 4th and the other beginning high school. I had bills to pay, games to watch, meetings to attend…in other words, I was the typical American woman, too busy to worry about herself. So when it came time for my yearly OBGYN appointment, I almost cancelled. I was supposed to be interviewing witnesses and going school shopping. But because I had taken me 2 months to get that appointment, I went.
While examining my right breast, the doctor found a lump. After a mammogram, ultrasound, and needle biopsy, I was diagnosed with Stage II infiltrating ductile carcinoma. After getting over the shook of the diagnosis, I geared up for the fight of my life. I was seen by general surgeons, plastic surgeons, and oncologists, all giving me their opinions of the proper course of treatment. As more tests were done and doctors seen, I realized that fighting this disease was going to be expensive. At each step of the process, I was given information about support groups and different programs and organizations to assist with the cost of diagnosis and treatment. However, because I worked a full-time job making more than poverty level, and I had medical insurance, I did not qualify for any of these programs.
Over the next few months, I racked up quite a lot of medical expenses. I had a bilateral mastectomy followed by 8 rounds of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation. This required me to see a doctor once a week from October through April and pay a $35 co-pay for each visit, and this was in addition to having to meet my deductible, TWICE! And although I did not lose my job, I had to miss work for 6 weeks to recover from the surgery, and quite a few days after each chemo treatment. As the medical bills mounted, I began to worry about how we were going to pay for all of this and still keep a roof over our heads.
With the help of God, family, and friends, I was able to get through treatment and pay my bills, but as I recovered, I began to speak with other women fighting this battle. I realized that my problem was not unique; that many women fall into the same category – we were insured and/or employed, so we did not qualify for any programs that provide financial assistance but made too little to pay all the costs that come with battling breast cancer.
From this thought was born “In The Middle”, a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to women who are financially “in the middle”.