As a social worker with the Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial, I am writing to share with you a story about a family that instantly warmed my heart through their love and courage to overcome tremendous hardships.
Josephine, a 55-year-old single mother of a 15-year-old girly-girl, learned this June that she had rectal cancer. Since then, she has undergone chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Her treatment plan includes at least 12 more rounds of chemotherapy. When she was initially diagnosed, she was working as a hairdresser. However, she had to make the difficult decision to stop working as it became physically impossible for her while on chemo and radiation.
Overcoming hardships is not new to Josephine. Several years ago she and her daughter lost everything and became homeless and lived in their car. She worked hard and started a rent-to-own home contract and when she went to buy the home she learned “home” had been under foreclosure for years and that they had been victims of a scam. They again became homeless. She was able to draw upon her strength, faith, and friends to create a new life for her daughter - and then came cancer. Having cancer has brought back many financial worries for Josephine and she is proactively downsizing her home and bills so that she can try to keep her family with shelter this winter.
Josephine has had to manage money very tightly and hasn’t been able to buy her daughter many of the things that kids enjoy. They have no computer so they go to the library to do homework. She has never been able to take her daughter on a vacation and has always wanted to take her somewhere like Disney that she will always have fond memories.
Despite this, they remain a strong mother-daughter duo. Josephine is proud of her daughter and beamed when she shared that her daughter is always on the honor roll and that she plays French horn in the school marching band. She would love things like most kids have, such as a television and some new clothes.
Josephine stated that the cancer has been hard because once she feels she has the hang of things, everything changes and there are new barriers to overcome like losing her health insurance and coping with all the new physical challenges. Some things that might help through these transitions with cancer and the move into a smaller home would be some gift cards for groceries, gas cards to help the two-hour drive for chemo treatments, and a gift card where she can get things to help the smaller space feel more cheerful. She never asks her medical team for help, but we are aware of her situation and thought your listeners might be able to help bring some joy during this holiday season.
Thank you for sharing your blessings this holiday season so that Josephine and her daughter can have the chance to experience Christmas and have a life that seems close to normal this holiday season.
Anderson Cancer Insitute
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