From 2012-15 I had some breast infections—I paid for my own ultrasound and mammogram. They found that I had Stage 1 breast cancer. My kids stayed with me at my step-grandmother’s apartment before the cancer. Pink Fund paid for 6 months of recovery but my step-grandmother sold her apartment building and we ended up at Olive Branch Mission Shelter. We had our own room but it had no doors.
I had been misdiagnosed—I had Stage 3 breast cancer. Three years ago I had a double mastectomy and 16 nodes removed from my left arm. I had 6 months of chemotherapy. I was in the process of buying a house (I had a credit score of 715) but had to use the money for my chemo. During that time I cared for my kids, took them to school each day.
A nun at Catholic Charities, saw how hard it was for us at Olive Branch and arranged for a different shelter. Someone had stolen my wigs, my head scarves. There was no heat. The nun brought me head scarves to keep warm. She got us into Madonna House near Wrigley Field. The staff watched out for me—we had keys and could lock our doors. My kids loved the place and the workers and had lots of friends. New Hope Apartments helped find us permanent stable housing—we’ve been here a year.
I just returned to school. I’ll be getting a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from University of Phoenix on-line. I’ll graduate in May 2019, and then go on for my Masters. I want to work with homeless and cancer survivors to help them deal with their problems and to pay back what people did for me.