This is one of a series of stories about the 15 nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.
On Nancy’s 45th birthday in October, she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and lymph node cancer. She was already a widow and had two children — ages 7 and 20.
“Immediately, your whole life changes,” said Nancy, whose real name is not being used to protect her privacy. “It’s been an experience that has been devastating for me and my children.”
Her 20-year-old took a break from college to care for her mother, who used to work full-time in the auto industry until this diagnosis. She hates that her daughter has to help her because she is young, but she provides her transportation. Nancy also said that she must pick and choose what she can do with the money she has — and she may soon have to relinquish her car.
“I thought surely I can handle chemotherapy and work,” she said.
But she was wrong. Her first chemotherapy was on Nov. 17 and she said she has been seriously ill since then.
She also didn’t know how she was going to be able to pay her rent without working.
“I’ve never needed help before,” she said. “I’ve always been the one to donate. I’ve never been the one to receive.”
She applied for welfare, but she was denied and must wait until February to reapply. She then looked into Mercy’s Gate, and they were there for her.
“I’m lucky I’ve met people who actually care,” she said. “There are a lot of people worse off than I am, but in my situation, I feel tragic.”
Mercy’s Gate provides food, clothing, assistance with rent and utilities, medical help, as well as spiritual and emotional care and support, according to its website.
“They are there for you. They take you in and pray with you,” Nancy said. “They check in on you.”
Nancy said she is so thankful for everyone at Mercy’s Gate.
“It’s the best organization going on in town right now,” she said. “They give me hope I’m going to be okay. I have faith.”