Please scroll down to read all the stories of our amazing & inspiring recipients
Hi, my name is Denielle Chamberlain. I am a forty six year old single mom and grandma. I have four kids. Two of my kids are incredible grown adults living in Pennsylvania. My oldest daughter has three children of her own. My two youngest kids live with me. Their ages are sixteen and fourteen. They are bright honor students and athletes. My daughter is a national champion cheerleader which is a great honor. My son is an MVP soccer player. I'm really proud of all of my kids.
This has been the worst year. I lost my husband last September to addiction. He was my best friend and soul mate. Covid hit in February and school went to remote learning. My catering.sales job for two wonderful New England brands went remote also. We had big adjustments to our lifestyle for everyone being home all of the time. I started to notice I was having pain after eating. I scheduled an appointment with my primary MD to get checked out. I was referred to a gastroenterologist and underwent an endoscopy which revealed cancer of the esophagus. I was then referred to an oncologist. I started to miss a lot of work. In June, I was hospitalized for vomiting blood. In July, I was back in the hospital in the ICU for blood clots in my lungs. I used my short term disability from work since I did not have any sick or vacation time left. In October, my short term disability was used up and long term disability needed to be approved which actually took two months. Throughout this year, I missed some months of rent and really started to fall behind on many bills. The stress was getting overwhelming. Since long term disability is through insurance, I was no longer receiving a check from my employer because I lost my health insurance. I had to switch to state insurance because I could not afford full price insurance.
My original cancer team was in Rhode Island. Since I live on the Massachusetts border, I had to switch my medical team to a Massachusetts based one and I chose the Sturdy medical team. At Sturdy, I was paired up with a social worker named Susan who helped me sign up for grants and assistance to help get me through the holidays. She was a godsend. I appreciate her and appreciate programs like the Carin Maclean Foundation. I am so grateful for this foundation to assist me through these difficult times. Having assistance to catch up on bills that fell by the wayside this year will help me to just focus on my health and fighting this cancer.
Thank you for letting me share my story.
Life is seemingly normal and routine, until it’s not. One minute you are at your job, going through the motions of the day, when suddenly, almost instantaneously, your life changes. That was my experience in 2019, when after using the bathroom at work; I was shocked to find blood in my stool.
I immediately contacted my doctor, to schedule for a follow up, she did a guac test at the office and it came back positive. She put in a referral for a colonoscopy ASAP. It was August 2020. My world changed in an instant, as I learned I had stage IV colorectal cancer metastasized into my liver. I was scared for my life.
After my diagnosis, I was nervous and scared knowing that my life was in danger, so I knew that I needed to be in good hands to get through this. It was the colonoscopy doctor who recommended that I see someone at Dana-Farber Cancer Center Institute.
I took this as a sign that I would find the help I needed there. I was assigned to several medical staff there, I had to meet with the oncologist to start chemotherapy treatments as soon as possible.
Few months after, my blood pressure was very high, that was one of the side effects of chemo. I also made sure I improve my diet. It was important that I maintained a healthy lifestyle while doing through treatment. As of now, I’m still doing chemotherapy every two weeks and I’m on my ninety chemo treatments.
The best advice I could give would be to have faith and believe that you will make it. Pray for yourself, your family, and for the care and hands of the doctors and nurses as well. I know that this mindset will helped me recover and gave me back my normalcy, my life after cancer.
- Saghine Toussaint
I discovered my breast cancer through a self-breast examination. An abnormal mammogram was the first sign that something was wrong. A few biopsies later that confirmed to have early stage breast cancer. From then on everything seemed to move simultaneously fast and slow.
The treatment plan included a mastectomy with reconstruction. However, in the middle of my treatment the company I had worked for eliminated my position. It was completely unforeseen and devastating as I was the main breadwinner and medical insurance holder in my family. I tried to find as many as resources as I could to help keep everything together but eventually it gave way.
I found that I couldn’t cover the cost of mortgage, utilities and other basic life needs but even with all that looming in the background I went on and had surgery. At first it went well but shortly after I became ill and we discovered that I had developed a very bad infection and couldn’t complete reconstruction.
After enough time went by where it would be safe to attempt and go in again, I developed another infection; including my entire family catching COVID-19 recently during the last week of Dec. 2020 into 2021 of which I am currently experiencing symptoms from. All these factors compounded significantly delay the completion of my procedure and my ability to find employment.
Ultimately my lovely retired 73-year-old mother had to use her limited savings to keep my family’s mortgage afloat all the meanwhile keeping up with her own expenses, but it’s been hard and even with her help it’s been impossible. The stress has most certainly contributed to my inability to recover. Still I remain optimistic that the finish line is on the horizon and that soon I’ll be able to take back control of my circumstances and create a sense of normalcy for my family especially for my beautiful young daughter, my amazing husband and my amazing mother.
The news that I was awarded funding from the Carin MacLean Foundation came on the 15th year anniversary of my father’s passing from cancer. It was as if it was a cosmic sign from him that everything I have lost during this experience I would gain back with bigger and better blessings. It does one’s mind and heart good to know that there are people like those over at the Carin MacLean Foundation who provide their unconditional support for those at their most vulnerable. You may not get to see the smile you put on all our faces but that we are so very thankful for your impact in our lives.
- Faye Cicci