Meet Heather Irish: A recent recipient of the New Day Foundation for Families and the Christmas Program

How was New Day Foundation able to help your family? 
I am a single mom with a 10-year-old daughter. I am 51, active, and full of energy…or at least I was. In early August 2014 I had signed a lease to be closer to my mom so that she could help out with my daughter when I was at work. Two weeks later I felt some pain in my armpit. I mentioned it to my doctor and was told, in August 2014, that I had stage 4 breast cancer and of course I panicked.

My social worker at Beaumont shared what New Day could provide us. They paid my rent for three months. It was just amazing, then in December, New Day contacted us again and provided wonderful gifts for the holidays. They picked out the absolute perfect clothes for my daughter—the right colors, styles—somehow they just knew. They also provided snow pants and a parka. The one year I needed help, I was able to give my child the most beautiful Christmas.

How did help from NDF impact your family?
My diagnosis really came out of nowhere and I do not have a family history of cancer. I wasn’t able to work through my chemo treatment, so New Day was a godsend. I was able to get through my chemo, which was very aggressive therapy, without adding more traumas to my daughter because I couldn’t pay our rent.

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t just happen to the patient, it happens to the entire family. With the help from New Day, my family was also given a reprieve from the trauma of cancer.
I also wanted to mention that what happened to me could really happen to anyone. I am a U of M college graduate who went to law school. I just fell on some really hard times.

Tell us more about your work and how New Day enabled you to continue your mission and take care of yourself this past fall?
I am the CEO and Founder of Mental Illness Needs Discussion Sessions (MINDS), an awareness program whose mission it is to educate the community about mental health issues. I am the last to get a paycheck, if I even do, which can be very difficult. MINDS is dedicated to providing pre-teen and teens with vital mental health, and suicide prevention workshops at school. It’s extremely rewarding when a 14 year-old tells you “because of your program I got help from a therapist and I don’t want to kill myself anymore”.

What is next for you?
I’ve started radiation, it’s making me tired, but I am doing pretty well. I am very thankful for every day on this earth and especially with my daughter. I really cannot give enough praise for the help The New Day Foundation provided to us.