In 2011, Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer. She under went a mastectomy and chemotherapy, along with all of the horrible side effects involved in recovery. The same year, she underwent breast reconstruction surgery using the TRAM lap procedure.
Sharon endured several painful, corrective surgeries to repair the lap procedure.
In August of 2013, she developed a hernia in the area where the muscle that was used to reconstruct the breast had been removed. She had a mesh surgery, but it failed 3 months later and another mesh had to be implanted. Only a small amount of the first mesh was removed because the remaining had become attached to other organs as a result of the scar tissue. When she had a CT scan at Froedtert hospital to determine the condition and location of the failed mesh, they also found a second cancer in her other breast. It was suggested that the cancer be addressed first.
Again, Sharon endured another mastectomy followed by a long, painful recovery and the horrible side effects of chemotherapy. After finally healing well enough from the mastectomy and the debilitating side effects of the chemo, she bravely faced another hernia mesh surgery. This one was successful but again was followed by a very long and painful recovery.
All of this and now without an income.
In December of 2017, Sharon was diagnosed with stage four reoccurrence breast cancer. It was located under the reconstruction on top of the chest wall. The tumor was removed and so started the following events....
While recovering from the surgery and starting her first round of radiation therapy, Sharon's hernia mesh again failed... only this time it became life threatening. She now had a horribly painful, obstructed bowel.
Sharon was rushed from the ER in Fond du Lac's Agnesian hospital to Froedtert Medical Center in Milwaukee for emergency surgery. Forced to endure a nightmare of stomach and intestinal pumping, Sharon was prepared for surgery. The surgery to remove the obstructed bowel was successful and another mesh was implanted. Again, the previous failed mesh had to be left in her body, this new one being mesh number three.
Sharon spent a week in the hospital recovering. She was told that if this third mesh failed, the next surgery would be very challenging with uncertain outcomes.
It was frightening to hear the possibilities.
When Sharon was released from the hospital, she immediately restarted her radiation treatments. Because she had missed that week while in Milwaukee, she was told that several additional treatments would need to be added to her regimen.
For over 30 years, Sharon had dedicated her life as a special needs teacher for school age and preschool children. She is one of the most loving and gifted professionals you will ever meet. She was terminated from her position in 2011 while going through chemotherapy because she could not perform her roll as a teacher and the school district she worked for explained they did not offer FMLA to their staff.
This devasted Sharon, and it caused severe financial hardship to her and her husband, Tony. She was not able to secure another job for well over a year. The out-of-pocket costs from the 10-plus surgeries since 2011 had added up significantly. Although she is presently employed with Beaver Dam Hospital as a preschool teacher and is on FMLA, they only pay 60% of her wages (before taxes). This leaves her with the responsibility of carrying the large financial burden of her portion of the insurance premiums because there is no program offered to help with these costs.
The costs of the surgery and treatments at Froedtert hospital are out of her insurance company's network. This has generated significant out-of-pocket costs for Sharon and her family. It is unclear at this time when - or if - Sharon will return to work due to her cancer treatments, slow surgical recovery, in addition to the permanent physical damage all of these surgeries and treatments have caused.
Sharon will be off of work well beyond the maximum time allotted for disability income. This will then leave her without any income going forward. She will not be able to pay her portion of the health insurance premiums. Sharon's family is still recovering from the last round of out-of-pocket costs resulting from her past surgeries and treatments, as well as her husband Tony’s two heart attacks in 2017. It is estimated that after this is all said and done, it will bring their total liability to $60,000.00 or more.
Tony and Sharon are hoping that her harrowing journey will touch the hearts of those who may be able to help reduce their financial burden, giving her some semblance of a normal life while recovering.
Tony and Sharon humbly thank you for taking the time to read her story and for any help you might be able to provide.
God bless you all!
If you wish to help Tony and Sharon with the financial burden of unexpected medical debt, please to go: GoFundMe Sharon's Recovery Journey