This foundation was inspired by the words of 7 year old Morgan (left), as his mom, Leisha (my best friend, right) has been battling cancer. He wrote a letter describing how he thought cancer was a jerk- and quickly apologized for using a bad word, but said that was just how he felt, and didn't know how to say it any other way.
This letter made a big impact on me, but it was almost a year before I recognized the significance of the genius of that statement. How simple a thought, and how universal a feeling. I realized how that statement might not only help Leisha's family- but how those words could help so many more...I decided to undertake the venture of starting a new charity that will benefit families in need, in the hopes that we can make the lives of people battling this big jerk, a little better.
Leisha's family consists of her twin boys, William (center) and Morgan, her husband Deo, and their dogs Kevin and Ginger. She has had a rough go at life in general, but always strives to do the best for her kids, and her family. Deo lost his job a few years ago, so unemployment has long since expired, health insurance too. Leisha's lack of health insurance at the time, prevented her from going to the doctor in a timely manner- however when she really knew something was going on, she went to two different doctors and paid out of pocket (which she couldn't afford), for them to tell her, her fears were "nothing". It was when she could SEE the tumor growing from under the surface of her skin, she returned and again, and paid out of pocket for some tests- which did indeed confirm the worst. Leisha was diagnosed in March 2010, at only 34 years old.
The doctors were befuddled and confused over this diagnosis, while she was simply devastated, having been cheated out of simple medical care- and a chance at life. She was put on an aggressive treatment plan, but nothing has gone as it should be any step of the way. Her body's response to the treatments is out of the ordinary, never been documented in any other case out there, and even the very experienced and prestigious doctors on her case do not understand what is happening to her. She is essentially a guinea pig, and no one knows what to do next- one doctor says the other's treatment plan will kill her outright, the other says she will die without it.
She battles shortness of breath, swelling and edema, complete insomnia, and a variety of other serious side effects- all taking a toll on her already fragile body. She nearly died while giving birth (and the boys were both born dead), she has a weak heart (which is being damaged irreparably by the heart toxic chemo), and she has a neurological issue much like MS. She can barely see anything because of all these issues too, and so she squints to see details, cannot read books, and struggles with simple tasks, like reading her prescriptions and determining which pill is which. The deck was stacked against her to begin with- and the house of cards is quickly falling over.
The state insurance for low income/ unemployed, that she is now thankfully blessed with, is better than most employer's insurance- but because of the income restrictions, her husband cannot find employment now, even so, lest the coverage be dropped immediately. Leisha would never be eligible for a new insurance plan at this point anyway- and frankly her husband spends all day driving her to appointments and back again (in their falling apart minivan with bad tires, brakes, and a dying transmission), and taking care of the kids when she is resting. This allows them plenty of time together as a family during this dire time, but it allows little room for making ends meet. This clearly puts them in a serious pickle, and the stress is taking its toll.
They have come quite close to not being able to pay the mortgage, and very close to not being able to pay their property taxes. As Leisha's best friend, I have done everything I can to help them along the way- most recently organizing an effort to come up with funds for their bills. Many generous people, friends and strangers alike, came through and Leisha was able to "rest easy" (in theory)- for at least a little bit.
It was at this point I realized that I needed to figure out how to help Leisha and her family the next time they need it- and that very likely, many other families are in this position as well. With the recent issues facing some of the larger cancer related organizations, "cancer is a jerk", was founded to avoid the bureaucracy, red tape and politics- and cut right to the chase: assistance needs to be available to families directly, not pad the pockets of few, or wait in large endowments for some future purpose.
This foundation is designed to assist those fighting the daily battles against the ravages of cancer- to support and reward the victories achieved silently, each day these families go on surviving. Please help us, help these families fight, and win, against this terrible disease, and simple aspects of daily life which many of us take for granted.