Wendy

It was December 10, 2002, in a local dermatology office during a surgical procedure that I had a seizure due to the incorrect dosage of local anesthesia. What happened next has not only changed my life, but the life of my family. The ambulance arrived to rush me to the ER. I had no recollection of who I was, let alone my husband, my three kids, my family, and my community of friends. I had no recollection of the last 44 years.

Victory will come when I pass the finish line, when I am done with chemo and radiation, and when I am again training and running through the paseos of Santa Clarita with my best friend, my husband.Wendy
Question after question were asked that day, none of which I could answer. Who am I? Who are these people? What day is it? Do I know which holiday is almost here? I was told that I had just run the Santa Clarita Marathon the month before and that I was in great shape. I had been married for 24 years and had three children. I had been a PTA president and was very active in the community. I was told I had put aside my career to raise our children. I left the hospital two days later and went home to a house filled with memories, all of which were foreign to me. Day after day went by with no emotions, no flashbacks, nothing. I saw the faces of my family staring at me, my kids bringing me pictures, sharing stories of the memories that were dear to them, hoping one would connect.

It was so much for my mind and body that in February 2003, I had a Transient Ischemic Attack (a stroke). I was rushed to Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills were I was admitted for three days. With slight to the left side of the body, I left the hospital and went home with my family. Walking with a cane now, I stayed home day after day, hoping to remember something. In December 2008, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer.

I am thankful for the team of doctors that have been working with me—my surgeon Dr. Senofsky and my oncologist Dr. Barstis. Thank you for your compassion you show to those of us who struggle with the disease. So much has happened since the surgical accident six years ago. I have run one marathon and two half marathons. My husband and I started our own gourmet snack food business: M & W Gourmet Foods. Once again, my family and I are grateful to our extended Santa Clarita community who have rallied to help us run this race and fight. Victory will come when I pass the finish line, when I am done with chemo and radiation, and when I am again training and running through the paseos of Santa Clarita with my best friend, my husband. Circle of Hope has helped me with hospital bills, chemotherapy, radiation, scans, and labs.”

Cruz

After being on medical leave for four months while undergoing treatment for metastatic breast cancer, my employer notified me they would be terminating my employment. This meant I would also lose my group medical insurance coverage. I needed to sign up for COBRA immediately in order to ensure that there was no lapse of coverage.

In assisting me with my medical insurance payments, Circle of Hope has made it possible for me to receive the medical care I need to fight my cancer.Cruz
Considering I have been responding so well to my current treatment and in order to avoid any delay in care, my oncologist suggested I contact Circle of Hope to see if they could help with the COBRA payments. God answered my prayers when I heard Colleen’s voice on my answering machine. The staff at Circle of Hope jumped into crisis mode since I only had 2 weeks before my group medical coverage was terminated.

With Colleen’s kind and compassionate guidance and Jennifer’s personal attention and support, I was able to submit all the proper documentation needed for consideration. I was approved and a check was immediately mailed out. My COBRA coverage then began. In assisting me with my medical insurance payments, Circle of Hope has made it possible for me to receive the medical care I need to fight my cancer. Their assistance has helped reduce the stress, anxiety, and fear I had been experiencing when thinking I had to choose between paying my mortgage or medical insurance. I am now able to focus on my health, and continue to enjoy and spend quality time with my two boys.

My family and I will be forever grateful to the donors who make it possible for Circle of Hope to do such great work. Their effort and dedication to improve the daily life of both breast cancer patients and their families have personally given me hope.”

Caryn

I am a divorced mother of three. I have 2 grandchildren. I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on August 6th, 2007. I found a lump in my right breast. The MRI found 6 lumps in my left breast. I had a bi-lateral (double) mastectomy on August 30, 2007. I began chemotherapy in early October.

I was a district manager for a larger retailer. When I went back to work in early November, I was told that under the current circumstances, I could no longer fulfill my executive duties and obligations. I was no faced with no income and no benefits. This hit me harder that being told that I had breast cancer. I am a self-sufficient woman who owns a home and has bills

I am always the person giving the help and guidance; now I needed it and did not know where to turn.Caryn
to pay. These bills also include the chemotherapy, radiation, and reconstructive surgery I have ahead of me. How was I going to pay for the rest of my medical requirements? How was I going to pay my mortgage and my bills? What was I going to do? With the shock and surprise I was feeling over losing my job, I did not know where to go for help. I am always the person giving the help and guidance; now I needed it and did not know where to turn.

In conversation with someone about my situation, they asked me if I had heard of Circle of Hope and I had not. My daughter picked up the phone and contacted Circle of Hope to find out what they offered to breast cancer patients. Circle of Hope provided me with the support that allowed me to continue with my treatment and focus on my recovery knowing that I am a survivor. What a weight that was lifted from my shoulders.”

Dina

Making a living as a performer has been terribly exciting and wonderful, but steady work is rare and as soon as one job ends, the search for the next job begins. Dealing with such an uncertain life is difficult enough, but being diagnosed with breast cancer created a situation that I was unable to handle on my own. I have begun chemotherapy, will undergo surgery in the near future, and am looking to at least a year’s worth of medical treatment to fight the cancer.

I can sleep much easier knowing that I will be able to afford my treatment and focus my attention on staying as healthy as possible and getting well. Dina
The health insurance I gained from working my many musical theater jobs this year was scheduled to end and the thought of purchasing health insurance while having cancer terrified me. Unable to physically continue my usual performing jobs due to treatment, I turned to Circle of Hope to help me find a way to meet the financial hardships I now face due to medical costs and lack of work. Circle of Hope has become the ‘spark at the end of a long tunnel’ for me by providing help with my insurance premiums and doctor co-pays. Colleen and Jennifer have also offered such amazing support and kind words that mean so much to me as I face this scary and uncertain time.

I can sleep much easier knowing that I will be able to afford my treatment and focus my attention on staying as healthy as possible and getting well. Thank you, Circle of Hope!”

Dorothy

I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor. I was first diagnosed in 1985, again in 1999, and a third time in 2007. There have been a lot of challenges during these times besides the physical ones. I’ve been blessed with a supportive family, and I am especially grateful for the love of my grandchildren. My family keeps a positive outlook and is always there when I need them. I am proud to say that I am that matriarch of the Warrior Princess Court. At 70, I am feeling stronger each day.

I’m a three time breast cancer survivor… At 70, I am feeling stronger each day.Dorothy
I found Circle of Hope through my oncologist’s office and have been very fortunate to now have the support of an amazing organization. They were able to assist me in obtaining my cancer medicines when my insurance had maxed out. I’m very happy I found Circle of Hope and wish them all the best as they assist others in a position like mine.”

Georgianne

On February 15, 2010, I had my annual mammogram. Because it revealed some suspicious masses, I was scheduled for a biopsy. In 2007, I had undergone a biopsy for a similar mass and it was determined to be a calcification only so I wasn’t really concerned when my doctor contacted me to discuss the results. Optimistic by nature, I went to the appointment alone, not imagining that I would need someone there to support me. I was not prepared for the doctor’s words that day—’You have breast cancer.’ Nonetheless, my optimism helped me then and has helped me through my journey thus far, during the toughest time of my life.

Perhaps it was a blessing that I had no idea what was to come. Life is a roller coaster; however, I found myself on the down side when I did not qualify for disability. I wanted to remain positive and hopeful during my treatment, but I began to worry about money. Our finances were already strained, and the costs of co-payments, medicines, and gas for travel were becoming a burden. I trusted in God and I prayed daily that my husband’s job would remain stable enough to support us.

One day while searching for websites that assist breast cancer patients, I happened to find Circle of Hope. From that first phone call, I felt reassured and knew that I had hope. While my initial inquiry was about aid for my medical expenses, I received unexpected emotional support from the staff. They cared about me and I felt it. I was provided with valuable knowledge and guidance, and I hadn’t even applied yet! After becoming a client, I received help with medical expenses and was relieved to have some of my financial burden lifted so I could concentrate on getting well. Knowing that I could Circle of Hope if I needed to ask a question or just talk provided me with peace of mind.

God is good and finding an organization like Circle of Hope confirms it. Georgianne
In July, the roller coaster again veered into a sudden downturn—my husband was laid off. Not only did we lose his income, but we lost his medical insurance. Now I face the most frightening health issue of my life—the possibility of not finishing my treatment. I worried about losing the quality care I received through Kaiser. At my most depressed point, I imagined I would die. Again, I called Circle of Hope and explained my situation and again, they gave me hope. They were able to pay my COBRA premiums so I could complete treatment and stay focused on my care. If it weren’t for this organization, I don’t know where I would be now. God is good and finding an organization like Circle of Hope confirms it.

I can rest assured that until I am able to obtain other insurance, my treatment and post-radiation follow up will be covered. That takes a huge burden off my already, at times, heavy heart. Thank you to everyone at Circle of Hope for being their to sustain my optimism, financially and emotionally. I well up with tears of joy and gratitude as I think about everything you are doing. I look forward getting back into ‘life’ again soon and finding a way to give back.”

Linda

I began a new chapter in my journey with news that my cancer had returned and had traveled into my abdominal cavity. Linda
My journey with breast cancer began on a cold December day in 1996 with a call from my doctor stating that my mammogram was ‘highly suspicious.’ This journey has now taken me through a lumpectomy, a mastectomy with a free flap reconstruction, and many chemo sessions. I am a homemaker and have had the opportunity to home school our three children for six years. My husband is in full time ministry with a nonprofit organization. In November 2005, I began a new chapter in my journey with news that my cancer had returned and had traveled into my abdominal cavity. I very quickly realized how very expensive it is to battle this awful disease. I’m very grateful for Circle of Hope as they have graciously chosen to help us close the gap between what insurance will cover and the cost of my treatments. God uses many means to bring us comfort. For me, one of them has been the financial and emotional support that Circle of Hope has given.”

Linda P.

First, I would like to say that I wish every breast cancer patient in the world could have Circle of Hope in their lives. Being diagnosed with breast cancer is such a stressful, scary entry into the unknown, but Circle of Hope was behind me 110%.

In October of 2010, I discovered a lump in my left breast. After mammograms, sonograms and a biopsy, it was confirmed that of three lumps, two were positive. A lumpectomy revealed that it wasn’t actually two lumps but one 6.5 cm mass with suspicion on the right breast. I proceeded with a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. Having endured this, I thought treatment was finished and the cancer was gone, only to find out that I would have to undergo six heavy rounds of chemotherapy and a full round of Herceptin for the HER2 gene I carried.

This meant another surgery to insert a Port-A-Cath which would allow for medication infusion every 21 days for a full year. Along with the stress of thinking about chemo, dealing with its side effects and losing my hair, I was shaken to the core wondering how I could pay for it all.  I was on disability from work and still had insurance, but even with insurance I wondered how I was going to keep up with costs such as co-payments, surgeries, chemo, surgeons, hospital bills, tests, and labs. I had great moral support from my friends, my sons, a superb medical team, a neighbor that everyone should be lucky enough to have, and even my ex-husband.

Thank you, Circle of Hope, from the deepest part of my heart for the help you have given me.Linda P.
In spite of this emotional support, I still didn’t know how I was going to manage the overwhelming stress and financial obligation. As I started researching some of the major organizations, someone mentioned Circle of Hope, which happened to be right in my own backyard in Santa Clarita.  I called Circle of Hope and spoke with Jennifer Bench, their Client Advocate. She explained the application process and informed me that they could help me, and did they ever! I still cry when I think of the day this sweetheart of a woman told me all the ways they could help me. I cried tears of relief!

They have helped me with insurance, co-pays, chemo, and all with loving care. I am more grateful to Circle of Hope than I can ever explain. They have been more help than those great big organizations. Along with financial help, they also provide more kindness and compassion than you could imagine.  I am still in treatment and have a few more rounds to go, but I’m looking forward to the wonderful day in March of 2012 when I get my port removed. It has been a long road, and I really do not know how I could have done this without Circle of Hope. The relief from stress that they have provided during one of the most stressful times of my life has been amazing.  I look forward to the day I can give back to Circle of Hope. They are the greatest organization in terms of help and compassion. I feel so blessed to have found Circle of Hope, and I truly will never be able to thank them enough for their compassion, kindness and financial assistance. Thank you, Circle of Hope, from the deepest part of my heart for the help you have given me.”

Lisa

My first breast cancer journey began in March 2006. I knew my whole world would change after finding a lumping when I was doing a self-examination. I called my doctor immediately and had a mammogram, ultrasound, and then a needle biopsy. The results came back that it was a malignant tumor in the left breast and that I would need surgery to remove the cancerous lump.

When my doctor told me this news, I told him, ‘I have a lot of life to live and will stay positive. I will beat this and I will be fine.’ He was amazed of how positive I was. He explained the procedure and I had surgery, a lumpectomy and lymph nodes dissection, on April 6th, 2006. A month later, I would start chemotherapy—eight very aggressive treatments every other week. I finished chemo on August 10th and that was the best day of the whole ordeal. I started radiation in September and finished on October 9th. I was so glad and looking forward to getting my life back in order down the road.

I have a lot of life to live and will stay positive. I will beat this and I will be fine.Lisa
My husband and kids were amazed at what a fighter I was, with such a strong positive attitude. I never gave up hope that I would win the battle. In the middle of all this, I heard of an organization called Circle of Hope. I contacted them immediately and was amazed how much love and support I received as Circle of Hope’s mission is to help patients going through breast cancer treatment here in the Santa Clarita Valley. I was relieved that they were able to help me out with my COBRA payments as my income went down due to my leave of absence from work. Circle of Hope takes the worry out of how I can afford my medical insurance. I am so fortunate to have Circle of Hope in my life. Everything was going great with all my follow up doctor appointments and body scans. I went back to work on April 9th, 2007 after a year long battle.

As I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and my battle was ending, my mom was unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer and our family was in shock once again. I had a follow up body scan on May 25th. The results came back that something did not look right in a few lymph nodes on the same side that I originally had surgery on. Needless to say, I was in shock and had questions about how this could be. My doctor scheduled a biopsy and MRI right away to double check the area and to determine if I did in fact have a recurrence of breast cancer. The results came back and I indeed had a recurrence, with surgery, chemo, and radiation needed once again. I could not believe it. I asked my doctor how this could be. Was something missed in previous scans? I kept thinking how my family has to go through this again while my mom was now battling cancer. Who knew mother and daughter would be battling together? I again remained positive that I could beat it. I contacted Circle of Hope once and am receiving the support I need with my COBRA payments again. Circle of Hope is such an important and special group and I am so lucky to have it in my life. I went on leave from work again in July of 2007 and had surgery to remove the cancerous lymph node. My doctor was relieved that it was only one, not two that needed to be removed. I started a different chemo in August and finished on December 17th and again, it was the best day of my life. I am starting radiation at the end of January and am looking forward to finishing and starting a new beginning.

I want to add that during all this, I was getting great support from family, friends, and Circle of Hope. It was overwhelming. I am a lucky person to have such a great support network.”