Celebrations Continue in the Midst of Cancer
Buying a home and having your first baby are both such big milestones in life. Mariah celebrated both of them in 2022 when she and her fiancé bought a house in June, and then welcomed baby Grayson in December.
While these moments are precious, they don’t come without a financial impact. Yet Mariah wasn’t overly concerned because she was working two jobs with a steady income, her fiancé worked full time, and she was able to borrow from her 401k to help with her recent home purchase. She had worked hard as an operations supervisor at Ford for 10 years, and made her way through college at the same time. Now she worked long, 15-hour days going from Ford to her job as a dental hygienist, squeezing in workouts at her home gym during breaks three times a day.
Until she couldn’t. Mariah’s pregnancy was difficult, requiring a lot of prenatal care and hospital visits. When the baby was born, her cancer was discovered: a very rare, aggressive form of small cell carcinoma with tumors throughout her body. Months of chemo and specialist visits followed, with bills for all of it rolling in constantly.
“Preparing for my baby alone was so expensive,” she said. “I was the main income provider, and then (while waiting for longterm disability) I started getting hospital bills for the birth and prenatal care. Once cancer hit, I was seeing a specialist for pain, a specialist for medication, an oncologist, and a tumor specialist, and my MyChart is blowing up with bills! It was horrible – they don’t care, they just kept calling and sending letters.”
Mariah’s financial concerns were compounded by her need to move from her rental home last year, when black mold was found throughout the house. She couldn’t imagine raising a baby in that environment, and opted to buy her own home at the height of a sellers’ market. Yet the closing costs were so high, she had to pull from her retirement, incurring tax penalties of thousands for doing so. This followed with a window blowout and a furnace that quit.
“I can’t make the money I used to (due to cancer treatments),” she explained. I have to now hunt for a used furnace and hope someone in my family knows how to install it. I just keep praying and take it one day at a time.”
New Day stepped in to pay her mortgage for two months through our financial assistance program, provided formula and diapers for the baby, helped with a car payment, and created a Care Pack customized for her family.
“It helped so much to not worry about how I was going to scrape together the mortgage payment for those months,” she explained with relief. “The taxes are outrageous here, but it’s an amazing school district and very safe. It’s so quiet and peaceful; we can play outside on the lawn or go for a walk.”
“It was so sweet, I got this beautiful package with baby clothes. They made me a hat that I love; I wear the beanie all the time, it’s so soft!”
In February, she and Chris were able to have a beautiful wedding, compliments of his employer and the owners of Prestige Banquet Hall. The DJ was a cancer survivor and worked the event for free, while friends came together to donate hair and make-up services for Mariah. The wedding cake was even donated.
Today Mariah is trying to enjoy the time with her baby, who she describes as always happy and on the move. Continuously in and out of the hospital, she is hopeful that local immunotherapy, a clinical trial in St. Louis, and her faith will help her to fight this rare and aggressive cancer.