Grant Recipient: Cristina
I am afraid I will fall extremely behind and hurt my credit and/or lose my house in the process
Diagnosis: Stage II Breast Cancer
Treatment: Chemotherapy, Surgery
Grant used for: Housing Costs
A Challenging Life Even Before Cancer
Before she even discovered a lump beneath her arm, Cristina’s life was far from easy. The middle school math teacher is a single mother of an autistic teen daughter who also suffers from epilepsy and severe allergies. Life got a lot tougher for Cristina when doctors informed her that she had two different types of breast cancer in July of 2016. In one fell swoop, the math teacher was facing a bilateral mastectomy and lymphadenectomy (removal of lymph nodes), followed by six rounds of chemo.
The Death of an Aunt Serves as a Chilling Reminder
Cristina has tried to stay positive throughout her cancer treatment, but life keeps delivering more difficulties as well as personal losses. The day Cristina was scheduled for her surgery was the same day as the funeral for an aunt who had lost her battle with breast cancer. To Cristina, this was a reminder of how high the stakes were in her own fight against cancer.
The losses kept mounting. During Cristina’s treatment, her grandmother passed away. The woman was like a second mother to Cristina, and one of her last wishes was for Cristina to put her into her dress for the viewing. With the help of her cousins, Cristina tried to fulfill her grandmother’s last wish, though dressing her grandmother wasn’t easy because her arms were very stiff, swollen, and painful after the removal of more than a dozen lymph nodes.
Bad Reactions to Chemotherapy and More Family Health Scares
Cristina’s difficulties weren’t over yet. She suffered multiple severe allergic reactions and terrible side effects from the chemotherapy. She tells us of long episodes of vomiting, terrible rashes, and a burning scalp that led her to beg a friend to shave off her hair. The rest of Cristina’s family wasn’t left unaffected. Her daughter suffered another seizure, and her father suffered a health scare as well.
The Bills Pile Up
Throughout this time, Cristina has struggled to stay on top of her bills, which has been nearly impossible. Even before the cancer, she was already struggling to pay her daughter’s many medical bills.
Cristina tells us that though she is on disability, her paycheck is deducted for each day the school must pay a sub to take over her class. The deduction is higher than what she receives in disability, creating a net loss for every day that she is out of work. Additionally, when 2017 came around, her health insurance reset, forcing her to pay up to her max deductible once again. Cristina is most worried about paying her mortgage. Her ex-husband’s history of paying child support is spotty, and Cristina has learned not to rely on that check to show up each month.
Cristina Gets a Win
At Shades of Pink Foundation California, we thought Cristina deserved a win after the many challenges that she has faced. Our grant went toward paying her mortgage bill. We hope that this grant can add a little more stability to Cristina’s life as she continues her chemotherapy and focuses on getting well and caring for her daughter.