Before being diagnosed with breast cancer, Erica McCray was enjoying all the things you would expect for a young adult – spending time with friends, going out, having fun. At 20 years old, she had a clear vision of her future. Erica was studying at Baltimore City Community College in their nursing program, working two jobs, and just starting out living on her own. She was enjoying life and her independence. One day, out of nowhere, a large lump appeared on her head. Concerned, but certainly not frightened, she went to the emergency room where the medical staff attempted to drain the protrusion but no fluid was to be found. Home she went, because other than the bump on the top of her head, she felt fine. Months later, Erica found herself back in the emergency room with severe back pain. She was diagnosed with sciatica, prescribed drugs to relieve the pain, and sent home. Erica continued working as best she could,...Read More >
Cathy Guthrie, a 39-year-old mother of five, was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in September 2012, the same month that her mother died. Cathy received a double mastectomy four months later. Cathy and her family live in Cecil County, 45 minutes away from Union Hospital, where she was receiving treatment. Susan Dewitt, the same nurse coordinator who worked with Helen Wright, arranged for The Red Devils to provide Cathy with gift cards to help pay for gas and Christmas presents the year she was diagnosed. “The gift cards were phenomenal,” Cathy says. “It was like a sigh of a relief—one less thing to worry about. Being able to provide some stuff for the kids just gave us a sense of normalcy.” The Red Devils also funded a weekend camping trip for Cathy’s family so the kids could enjoy some fun after their mom’s recovery. During the month Cathy was recovering from her mastectomy, she received weekly meals from Moveable Feast and...Read More >
For Michele Franklin, 55, her relationship with The Red Devils goes back eight years, after her third cancer diagnosis. She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994, and underwent a mastectomy in her right breast and received chemotherapy treatments. The cancer went into remission for five years, but came back in 1999 in both breasts. This time she received radiation and the cancer went into remission once more. In 2001, a tumor was found in her lymph nodes, and she started chemotherapy again. Michele’s cancer has been in remission since then, but she continues to receive chemotherapy. As a result of years of chemotherapy treatments, Michele was diagnosed with Stiff Person’s Syndrome, a rare neurological disease that causes progressively severe muscle stiffness in the spine and lower extremities. The disease affects Michele’s legs, and some days she can’t even walk without a walker or a wheelchair. A former special education classroom aid and bank employee, Michele has been unable to...Read More >
When Helen Wright, 65, was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer last October she had no local support network. Helen had just moved back to her hometown of Elkton, Md., one year before, after living in Modesto, Calif., for 58 years. “Being here and not knowing anybody, not having anybody to go with me to treatments—it was very scary and frightening,” Helen says. As a retired home healthcare worker, Helen lives on a fixed income and couldn’t afford to fly her daughter from California to Maryland to help with her treatment. Helen shared her concerns with Susan DeWitt, her nurse navigator at Union Hospital in Elkton. As a nurse coordinator at one of The Red Devils’ 40 partner hospitals in Maryland, Susan arranged for the Devils to pay for a round-trip ticket to fly out Helen’s daughter to help with her treatment and recovery. “If it hadn’t been for [The Red Devils] I don’t know what I would have done,” Helen says....Read More >
Betty Tyler’s circumstances were unimaginable for most of us – homeless and in search of a safe, supporting environment to begin her breast cancer treatment. She found both thanks to the extraordinary care and compassion of our treatment support community. A stay was arranged at a residence hotel across the street from her treatment center. Groceries were delivered to her regularly. Not able to travel beyond the short distance to treatment, a “house call” was made to custom fit a new bra. Planning has begun to transition her to permanent resources for housing and support. “My heart used to flutter all the time,” Betty offers as she talks about the stress she was facing. “’Who are those people, are they real?’” she says she keeps asking herself. Between tears and laughter, squeezing a handmade quilt made by a Red Devils supporter, she whispers, “But I know that it’s real because my heart don’t flutter no more.”
When we were told about the cancer that my wife had, we thought we were all alone with all of our problems, but it was nice to know that The Red Devils was there for support.