Sara Stahl had recently given birth to her second child and had a 20-month-old son at home when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. While trying to adjust to a family of four on a limited budget, Sara and her husband were now facing a mounting pile of medical bills.
Sara’s husband is a 5th grade teacher in Woodhaven schools, where he was able to take leave from January through September to help care for Sara and the kids. Fellow teachers even donated their vacation time to help the family keep their income.
“We were able to keep some income rolling in, but it was so unexpected,” said Sara. “We lived paycheck to paycheck so I could stay home with our kids. When this hit us, it was overwhelming. There were medical bills, so many co-pays, out of pocket expenses and a really high deductible. Things that at age 32, you’d never even thought you’d have to think about.”
While Sara recovered from a double mastectomy, chemo and radiation, her husband shouldered the burden of the dwindling household finances. When a nurse navigator at Beaumont pointed her to New Day, she was hesitant to apply for help.
“At first it was hard to accept,” she explained. “I’ve never needed help like that before. When you’re going through treatment, you’re kind of out of it. My husband was taking the burden of all of it. This helped lift it off of his shoulders. Now that I’m back, I’m so thankful for that.”
After her diagnosis, Sara became committed to getting healthy and asked her doctors about ways to lower the risks of recurrence. “Our goal was to eat more organic foods,” she said. “I’m not putting chemicals into my body now, and I’m thinking twice about what I’m feeding our children. We completely cut out red meat after I was told by three different doctors that was what to do. I also try to get at least five hours a week of exercise, too.”
To help Sara and her family stick to the plan and ease their financial distress, New Day provided Kroger gift cards and paid the family’s mortgage payments. Today she is feeling healthy, calling to speak with us from the Detroit Zoo with her kids. She is scheduled for reconstructive surgery in November and looks toward the future with hope.
“We hope to give back to the foundation someday, maybe through a fundraiser down the road. New Day helped us and we want to pay it forward.”