Sandra was a healthy, middle-aged woman. She didn’t drink or smoke. She worked hard and slept well. She had no reason to think she might have breast cancer.
So, when Sandra began having trouble sleeping, at first she didn’t think anything of it. She would wake tired, with dark bags under her eyes. She looked at herself in the mirror and saw a woman who no longer looked healthy and lively. Then, one day while lying in bed swiping through photos on Facebook, she happened to feel a lump on her left breast.
That’s odd, thought Sandra. She was slightly worried, but since she’d always had large breasts she thought it was probably a cyst. Certainly, it wasn’t breast cancer.
Around that same time, Sandra began considering a breast reduction. When she visited her doctor for an initial consultation on a Friday, the doctor immediately instructed her to have a mammogram. That Monday, Sandra underwent a mammogram and biopsy, and by Wednesday, her doctor called to let her know she had breast cancer.
“My life was going great,” she says. “I was working, I had a thirteen-year-old daughter, I’d just had a promotion, and then suddenly they tell you that news. Your world just falls down.”
Sandra was terrified. She was afraid she would leave her daughter without a mother and leave her parents without their only daughter.
“It was like if I was living a nightmare and that my beautiful life had come to an end,” she says. “Cancer affected me emotionally, financially and physically.”
From chemotherapy to double mastectomy to lumpectomy
The tumor was five centimeters long, about half the size of her left breast. Doctors told her she should begin chemotherapy immediately. For the next six months, Sandra went through an aggressive treatment of chemotherapy. At the end of her treatment, under the counsel of her doctors, Sandra decided to have a double mastectomy to remove both her breasts. When a second biopsy showed continued signs of cancer on her left breast, Sandra returned a month later for a lumpectomy. Of the 19 lymph nodes surgeons removed, 12 were positive.
Because of the positive lymph nodes, Sandra continued to undergo radiation until recently to ensure the cancer was completely eliminated. She won’t attempt breast reconstruction until the remaining tissue along her chest has time to heal.
AiRS offers financial aid
After her diagnosis, Sandra immediately went online to search for organizations who could help support her through treatment. While she had health insurance, the deductible was high. Her mother paid for her first round of chemotherapy because Sandra could not afford it on her own. When Sandra found AiRS online, she immediately applied for a grant. AiRS offered to help with the deductible, as well as provide emotional support.
“They were there for me while I went through this, giving emotional and financial support,” says Sandra. “They gave me light.”
Without AiRS’ emotional and financial support, she would be dead, Sandra says.
AiRS can help you too
At AiRS, we primarily offer grants to help women who cannot afford breast reconstruction. That said, we also help women through all parts of the breast cancer treatment, and even sometimes help women who are undergoing other kinds of breast illnesses. Applying for a grant from AiRS is easy!
We’ve tried our best to make the application as straightforward as possible, and we have a fast return rate so you’ll know the status of your application quickly. Here’s where you can learn more about how to apply. If you are a woman in need of help, we hope to hear from you. It’s our mission to help you feel whole again!