We were able to reach some of the people we helped and they consented for us to tell their stories. Others could not be reached or did not respond, therefore, some stories have actual names and diseases or diagnoses, while others use generic names and information to protect their identities.
At the time of his application, Stephen was a 33-year-old, married ASU alumni and the sole provider for a family of six. He was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer in 2013, which recurred three times and now is considered stage 3. Stephen has undergone extensive surgery (including removal of his large intestine) and he had just begun his 3rd 6-month regimen of chemo following the 3rd recurrence. He attempted to continue to work, but with significant ongoing pain, he alternated between work and collecting disability – which represented only about half of his typical pay when he was working to capacity as a commission salesperson. He had private insurance, but with a $5,000 deductible which he had not yet met for 2017. At the time, he had no outstanding medical bills because he just started chemo, so he requested assistance with his mortgage while waiting for the medical bills to come in.
Sun Devil Family Charities provided funds to help Stephen with his mortgage.
Stephen sent a note back: “Thank you so much for all your help and support!”
Jane, an ASU employee, was the second person to apply for assistance. Her husband lost his job in June of 2016, and Jane became the sole provider for a family of five. He returned to work in February 2017 and they started to catch up on overdue bills. Shortly thereafter, Jane had a surgery, then another family member required surgery and quickly she had used up all of her paid leave from work. She planned to return to work after recuperation, however, the family would be without at least one paycheck as they are trying to recover from her leave and her husband’s unemployment.
Sun Devil Family Charities provided funds to help Jane with her rent and utilities.
Our third applicant of the year was Mallory, a 24-year-old current ASU student. Mallory’s mother was struck and killed by a drunk driver on May 6, 2017, leaving her brother, sister and herself without parents or grandparents – her father and last living grandparent passed away within the last 2 years. Mallory had 3 days of paid bereavement leave from her job, but she needed more time (unpaid) to make her mother’s funeral arrangements, get her affairs in order, and to receive initial counseling from a trauma specialist – and to simply grieve. As a working college student living paycheck to paycheck, her unpaid time off left her in a financial bind, unable to pay her current month’s rent.
Sun Devil Family Charities provided Mallory funds for rent and some additional expenses.
Friends of Mallory, who were helping her out at the time, commented that she was “absolutely speechless” after receiving financial assistance.
Our fourth applicant was an employee of ASU who was undergoing chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer. At the time of application, he was on medical leave and would most likely be unable to return to work (but was expected to apply for long-term disability). In the meantime, he requested assistance with medical expenses, an electric bill and rent.
Sun Devil Family Charities provided him with the funds requested.
Christopher was our fifth applicant, a 48-year-old married alumnus of ASU with two children. His son was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease for which there is no cure. He will be undergoing lifelong treatment to minimize respiratory health crises. At the time of application, Christopher’s son was in Phoenix Children’s Hospital where he had been hospitalized 10 times over the past two years.
Sun Devil Family Charities made payment to Phoenix Children’s Hospital in both June and July to help offset the family’s medical expenses.
Christopher sent a note: “Sun Devil Family Charities was there to comfort my family and I during a very stressful and financially taxing time. I am forever grateful for their assistance and follow up, which helped immensely.”
Susan was our sixth applicant, an ASU employee. She was diagnosed with a very rare condition and had been on FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) with significant disability for two months. Her husband also had to take time off work to care for her and take her to medical appointments. As a result, they were behind with many bills.
Sun Devil Family Charities provided financial assistance with medical co-pays and utilities in June. Susan asked for, and was given, additional assistance with rent in November.
Susan’s first note said: “Thank you…this has totally made my day. The money will help so much!” Her second note: “Oh my gosh, I truly do not have words for this help. Thank you so much – when I stop crying I would like to thank everyone involved…”
Our seventh applicant, Joe, was an employee of ASU at the time he applied for assistance. He was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease in September 2016. In January 2017, he was hospitalized for three months with several viral infections. Joe began outpatient treatments and was expected to undergo a significant medical procedure sometime between August and September. He went through his paid sick time, and unfortunately did not know that he had to apply for short-term disability within three months of diagnosis, so he was not eligible. He applied for long-term disability. Joe requested assistance with one month’s mortgage payment.
Sun Devil Family Charities made Joe’s mortgage payment.
Melissa, a 35-year-old alumnus of ASU, was our eighth applicant. She was found to have a fast-growing mass behind her right eye. At the time, her doctors had not determined a specific diagnosis because when they tried to biopsy the mass, she had a massive bleed and was placed in the Intensive Care Unit for three days. Melissa had already used up her health savings account balance, and with a high insurance deductible was already responsible for $6,700 in medical expenses, not including the ICU stay or surgeon bill. In addition, they still hadn’t determined the diagnosis which meant more tests and procedures. Melissa requested assistance with medical co-pays and deductibles.
Sun Devil Family Charities provided funds to help with these extraordinary expenses.
Melissa’s note read: “I am very appreciative of the help I received from Sun Devil Family Charities. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to get my second surgery and official diagnosis and treatment. Thank you!”
Marjorie was our ninth applicant for the year. She was a former ASU student who had previously been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. In May 2017 she was diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer to her lungs. At the time of application, she was again undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Her out-of-pocket medical expenses exceeded $6,000 and she was in arrears with utility bills. Marjorie was looking for assistance with her medical expenses.
Sun Devil Family Charities provided the requested financial assistance.
Marjorie wrote: “Thank you so much! This is so very much appreciated and will be extremely helpful…you have no idea how helpful this will be!”
Our tenth applicant was John, a married ASU employee. He underwent a significant surgery with severe complications leading to debilitating health issues. He went on long-term disability in September 2017. He requested assistance with his mortgage and utilities.
Sun Devil Family Charities provided funds to help with these expenses.