Anthony Paul

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I was working full time as the receiving manager at David’s Bridal and my husband was self employed doing fine art and photo-to-canvas after working as a pharmaceutical mechanic for over 15 years at Lederle Laboratories in New York. We have been married for 22 years, and as they say in your vows, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, and richer or poorer.”

In August 2013 my husband was diagnosed with colon rectal cancer. This was a big blow for us. In four generations in his family, there was no history of any cancer. In May 2013 my husband began seeing blood in his stool and was constantly in pain. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a bleeding hemorrhoid and was given a prescription for suppositories and ointment, which the doctor said should clear up the issue. He continued to bleed and was in excruciating pain. Due to the time I needed off work to take care of my husband, my employer cut my hours to part time, which cancelled my benefits. As my husband’s condition worsened, I made the decision that his need for care required me to leave my employment. As of July, there was no improvement in his condition, so we made an appointment with another doctor. As my husband is a diabetic, this doctor began reducing his medications and referred him for a colonoscopy. The day of the colonoscopy, my husband was diagnosed with colon/rectal cancer. The gastroenterologist ordered him to see a surgeon and an oncologist immediately. Four days after the colonoscopy, my husband was bleeding so profusely, I had to rush him to Palms West Hospital. He lost so much blood that he required six blood transfusions and a week’s hospital stay. The doctor ordered radiation and chemo from October 2013 through January 2014. He then had to heal to prepare for surgery.

During all of this time we could no longer afford to stay in our home and had to leave. We had gone through our savings and savings bonds and had moved in with the only family member we had in Florida. Since we would then be living in Boynton Beach, I emailed and called Wellington High School to see what I could do to keep my a daughter, a junior, and my son, a sophomore, in their school. I then went to Wellington High School and spoke with the Vice Principal and the Guidance Counselor to see if I could get transportation from Boynton Beach to Wellington. Going through this ordeal as a family, I wanted to minimize the amount of disruption in their lives. The Vice Principal and the Guidance Counselor informed me that there was nothing they could do and they wondered why I wouldn’t transfer them to Boynton Beach High School or enroll them in Florida Virtual School. I informed them that I moved from West Palm Beach to Wellington because Wellington High School was rated “A” at that time. My daughter had been attending since her freshman year and my son came from a Wellington middle school as a freshman. I decided to enroll my children in Florida Virtual School beginning in May of 2014. I did not want them to be behind in credits and wanted them ready to enroll back into Wellington High School for the 2014-15 school year. It was important that they be in their respective senior and sophomore years. Our children were devastated, but they grinned and beared it very well in their virtual classes.

On March 12, 2014 my husband was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital for surgery. As a result of the surgery, he has a permanent ostomy, which cannot be reversed. During his hospital stay his heart went into atrial fibrillation which required him to have emergency heart surgery, which prolonged his hospital stay to April 7, 2014. I stayed with my husband day and night in the hospital while our children stayed with family in Boynton Beach.

In November 2014 the family we were living with told us that we had to leave their home. The family was having trouble with their teenage son, and he needed his room. We could not believe this was happening to us! We had no where to go, and stayed in our car for three days until we received help. We were not eligible to go into a shelter, because there was a screening process and a waiting list. I contacted 211 which provided us with many resources. I contacted: Catholic Charities, American Red Cross, Lewis Center/Adopt A Family, Cancer Alliance of Health And Hope, Hugs and Kisses,Inc., CancerCare, Family Promise, and Disability Coalition. Catholic Charities And Lewis Center/Adopt A Family took my information and told me the only thing they could do was to pay for bus tickets for us to go to family in New York. We did not want to do this, because it was not practical to disrupt his health care in Florida. We felt like the doors were closing on us until we spoke with Cancer Alliance of Health and Hope and spoke and met with Hugs and Kisses, Inc. These two organizations were “angels” to us. They listened and offered help to my family. They assisted in getting our children back in Wellington High School. They are so happy to be back with their classmates. It felt good to see the smiles back on their faces! The organizations put a temporary roof over our heads and gave us food and gas for our car. They have been such a blessing to us that we can now see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I then applied for food stamps, Medicaid and temporary cash assistance from the Department of Children and Families. My husband applied for disability, and we are waiting for it to be expedited. We have obtained food from the local food pantry at Holy Name of Jesus in West Palm Beach.

I am hoping that this is just the beginning of us getting our lives back on track. My husband still has his PET scan on January 2015 to see if all cancer cells are gone, but he is getting stronger each day. We are still looking for permanent housing, but as long as our family is together we know we will be fine. God has brought us too far to turn around.