Connie's Letter

Dear Mark and All The River Listeners,

My name is Suzanne and I am a nurse navigator at the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial University Medical center.  I am writing to share with you a story of an incredible grandmother turned single mom, by adoption of two grandchildren, who is now living with cancer.

Connie was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer last year. Unfortunately, she is no stranger to cancer. She lost her husband in 2008 just four days after their adoption of their two granddaughters was finalized. He died from complications from treatment making her very leery and fearful for her own treatment experience. She didn’t want the girls to witness her in treatment as she did her husband.

Connie has run her own business for years and relied on it for the financial support and wellbeing of herself and two girls. When symptoms began to interfere with work, she went to a gastroenterologist and within a week of that appointment she received her cancer diagnosis.  Shortly after, she was scheduled for surgery to remove a tumor from her colon and she hasn’t been able to work since October 2016. 

I met Connie after surgery and we talked about her upcoming treatment options.  She was adamant she would not do any treatment. She had seen horrible complications from treatment and didn’t want to have similar outcomes.  I continued to talk to her and encourage her with information about how treatment could improve her quality of life and sustain her longer than if the disease is left untreated. Connie eventually agreed to pursue treatment.  She began this year with radiation and chemo.

When it is time to consider patients for Christmas Wish, she came to mind because I know her hardships.  Being self-employed mad health insurance too expensive and keeps her from qualifying for assistance with medical costs. The girls are 12 and 13 with active teenage social lives. They love to shop in all the trendy shops like The Gap and Aeropostale. Connie wishes she could provide more stability for them and the only way she can think to do that is to sell a small piece of land in her name. However, it has a drain field problem and that needs resolution.  She can’t afford to pay for the repairs.  She can’t sell the land until it is repaired. Since she can’t afford to fix the drain field, she can’t qualify for assistance for medical bills because she still owns the land.  She is in a real predicament. Her greatest wish is to resolve the land issue so she can have some financial support for herself and her family. 

It is my hope your listeners can find a way to bless this family with some holiday happiness. Thank you for the holiday blessings, whether big or small that you are able to share with Connie and her girls.

Happy holidays and wishing you a joyous season,
Suzanne Bryan
Nurse Navigator
Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute
at Memorial University Medical Center

Photo: Getty Images

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