Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can feel like you're facing a mountain, with so many questions and not enough answers.
You may be trying to process medical jargon while figuring out how you'll keep working to put food on the table.
But, there are people out there who can help.
And, when one of our friends or family members is diagnosed, our immediate reaction is to help.
We may feel helpless.
Stacey Taylor was not only scared about her triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis. She also didn't know how she was going to pay for it.
"When I was first diagnosed, I realized I don't have insurance. I am single. I live alone. I am my only source of income."
Her mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy were not covered. Instead of fighting her very aggressive cancer, she was worried about keeping a roof over her head.
"If I don't work, I don't get paid, I don't pay my bills. That was a huge, huge burden. For weeks, I thought about that," Taylor said.
That is until she was put in touch with Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio (HCNO), a group of hospitals that receives Susan G. Komen funding to pass along to survivors like Taylor.
"A financial barrier should not be a reason why a person does not get screening, a diagnostic test or treatment services," said Julie Grasson, HCNO project director.
"That was my biggest fear, and then Susan G. Komen picked up my mammogram, my ultrasound, and my biopsy and then I was placed with a program that gave me insurance so I actually had everything covered," Taylor said.
Susan G. Komen is funded, in part, by Race for The Cure.
Your registration dollars are received by Komen and distributed via grants to organizations like HCNO, which in turn helps survivors pay for things like rent, utilities, testing costs, transportation and medical bills.
Community health workers can come along on doctors' appointments and help newly diagnosed survivors file for FMLA or disability.
"All we need is for someone to call us and say, 'My mother, my sister, my friend has breast cancer and needs help,'" Grasson said.
"As a friend or a loved one of someone who may be battling cancer, the best thing you can do for them is to just make sure they know what resources are available," said Desmond Strooh, Susan G. Komen marketing and communications manager.
Komen says hopelessness and tragedy happen when survivors don't know those resources are there.
"They think, 'If I start cancer treatment, that means I'm not gonna feel good and if I take too many days off work, then they're gonna fire me. And if I get fired, then I won't be able to feed my children and take care of my family.' They feel their only resource is to ignore it, to work through the pain, know that they are dying and continue to work to support their families for as long as possible and that's wrong," Strooh said.
Many women like Taylor are connected to Komen and its services and that is life-saving.
"I was running behind cancer, trying to catch up because I didn't understand it and then finally I understood it and then I started to feel like I had control of my life," said Taylor. "When you don't have control, you have no hope. So, once you get to that point of having control, my whole outlook changed."
"That's why we're always working really, really hard to make sure that we are trying to get more because we know with that money we can turn it around to make an incredible difference in people's lives, to take that burden off of them so they can just focus on getting better."
For more information
- Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio: 419-724-2873
- Do you or a loved one need help with breast care resources?
- Donate to Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio:
- Join my Toledo Race for the Cure Team!