Stephani was a 34-year-old college student nearing graduation, already looking forward to a new job as a data analyst with Automated Benefit Systems when she felt a lump under her arm. Her daughter Charlotte was almost a year old and had been nursing regularly, causing frequent infection, so Stephani was not initially concerned. But after many rounds of antibiotic treatments failed to help, she had a growing suspicion that something was wrong. Finally, a full biopsy revealed she had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“I call Charlotte my little angel because without her, I may not have caught it in time,” said Stephani.
Faced with new job, a young child and the prospect of chemotherapy on the horizon, life was getting complicated. “I was afraid to tell them about it at work, because I was new and I had been hired before my diagnosis,” she said.
In addition, her Medicaid coverage would end now that she had job, but her new insurance left a gap in coverage and high deductibles. Bills from Charlotte’s 9-day-stay in the NICU were also demanding attention. Fortunately, her new employer was supportive of her chemo treatment schedule, and she was able to continue working by scheduling treatments on Wednesdays and riding out the worst of the sickness on weekends.
“I didn’t have time to focus on being sick; I was too busy! ” Stephani said. “Working was a good thing because I really didn’t want my daughter to see me go through this all the time. She would think that mommy was just tired sometimes.”
While struggling to make ends meet and at one point even considered stopping radiation due to the mounting costs of treatment, another blow was dealt to Stephani. She had purchased a home, had it inspected and moved in years before. She recently noticed a weird smell in her room, had a friend inspect it and found it was covered with “Kill Paint” – used to cover mold. She was afraid to even get an estimate for fixing the mold because all of their money goes to her bills, yet she slept in this room with her daughter and was concerned for their health.
NEW DAY STEPS UP
When New Day entered the picture, Stephani and her husband were managing to handle her treatment bills, but still had no way of dealing with her larger concern – the growing mold and its potentially harmful effects on her and her family.
New Day sent a contractor who ripped out the wall, revealing that the black mold had crept all the way through to the siding of the house. They replaced the areas of concern, and even painted the room a nice shade of purple chosen by Stephani for the family. She is grateful to everyone at New Day who went above and beyond to fix this problem for her.
Today, Stephani and her daughter Charlotte, who is now 2 ½, have made a commitment to getting healthy by participating in 5k Runs together.
“I had my moment where I just decided I needed to get healthier,” she said. “My first run was in between my chemo and radiation treatments, when I was just beginning to get my hair back. I walked and jogged with my daughter and my dad. Now Charlotte goes to all of my runs with me, cheering from her cart to ‘go faster, go faster!’ She even does the ¼ mile for kids!”
Stephani just completed her 6-month radiation follow-up, has a one-year CAT scan next month and is hopeful and excited to remain cancer free after that. Charlotte is 2 ½ and insists on taking her light-up ladybug – a gift from New Day – with her to bed every night.
Stephani resides in Armada, Mich. with her husband Cale and daughter Charlotte. She is a graduate of Cranbrook High School, which she received a scholarship to attend, and Oakland University. She recently attended the Art Van Charity Challenge event at FOX2 in support of New Day.