Thursday, December 12, 2013

Paying it Forward.

Cancer isn't free. One year of treatment, at the young age of 23,  put me thousands of dollars into debt. I finished treatment on August 31st, 2007- but I was nowhere being done with my cancer experience. The financial aspect haunts me to this day- which is exactly 6 years, 3 months, and 11 days since my last treatment.

The reason for this post is because I joined The SAMFund Alumni Team for our Holiday Campaign to help raise money. The team I am on consists of all past grant recipients- people that I have so much in common with. We want to pay it forward.

I know you have all read my past blog posts about how expensive cancer is. Well- The SAMfund just released their new  brochure, with the statement: "Cancer isn't Free". They really hit it on the head. Cancer is not free- in fact, it's the most expensive thing I've ever had to deal with. I've bought a car, had a wedding, put myself through college (via loans that I am paying now!), saving for a house, etc. None of those compare to the cost of my cancer treatment- and the cancer treatment continues for most after cancer. I still go in for blood work and scans, and those still come with a hefty price tag, despite having insurance, and being perfectly healthy today.

So, to keep it simple- what I am asking is that during the holidays, this time of giving, that you consider making a donation the my team's campaign. I am living proof of the affect that a SAMFund grant has on a recipient. My grant was life-changing. My grant gave me breathing room- by paying down my residual medical bills, it allowed me to continue to receive my scans and blood-work. My grant did so much more for me- so help me make a difference in a young adult survivor's life.

Lastly, I will end by sharing a quote from a past grant recipient: "My experiences with cancer have caused financial hardship through my young adult life. My second cancer recurrence occurred when I was 25 years old. Even though I spend very responsibly, cancer has challenged my ability to build my financial strength. Although it is a hardship for me to pay my high insurance premium, I am not willing to sacrifice the quality of care that I receive because of my financial situation. A grant from The SAMFund would help prevent financial disaster."

To make a donation, please visit my page here.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rest in Peace Ryan.

Bittersweet is the only word to describe today. I was so excited to write a blog post about my trip to Boston with The SAMFund. I found out the best news and the worst news upon arrival though, and it’s been quite hard to sort my thoughts.

 One of my best friends is going to have her baby today.

This morning I received news that an old colleague of mine passed away from a leukemia diagnosis. 

I don’t know how I am supposed to feel today- happy or sad. I really don’t feel anything. I just got back from a weekend spent with amazing young-adult survivors, and I come back to the news of a fellow amazing young-adult not making it. I can’t stop questioning everything. I am so na├»ve. Why do things like this happen? I am overcome with survivor's guilt. I said to my husband this morning that it’s weird how things happen- a baby is being born at the same time someone is leaving the world. I don’t understand, and probably never will. All I know is that we all have so much to be thankful for, and I know that I am guilty of taking my days for granted. It’s sad that it often takes something like this to put it all into perspective, but I guess we’re all learning from each experience.

Ryan- I know you’re gone, and it’s hard to believe, but you fought the most courageous battle of all. I looked through our past emails and found this message that you had sent me:

“Sorry it took me so long to respond... Lets just say I have found it a bit of a challenge. I might not have shown much in the past, but I always saw what you have done a pure inspiration. I always said, "I only wish I had the same courage." and now oddly enough, I'm here. I like to thank you for reaching out to me, it means a lot to have people that can relate. I'lll make sure to keep in touch, as I can only guess I'll have a million questions soon enough. Thanks Kate, it means a lot.”

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have. You fought the hardest battle, and you will never be forgotten. You had more courage then anyone I know, and I know you are looking down over everyone and watching over us all. Rest in peace Ryan Heitke.