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Colleen’s Story: Financial Help Took A Huge Weight Off Me While Recovering From Breast Cancer Surgery

Last year, Colleen Luck-Jones went in for her first mammogram. She had a baseline mammogram that showed nodules on her breast. A biopsy led to a stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. Colleen’s treatment included surgery and radiation therapy. She is now on hormone therapy, which she will take for the next five years.

Colleen works in a fast-food restaurant in Oregon and is responsible for opening the store early in the morning. Her employer does not provide her with health benefits, so she receives insurance through Medicaid through the state of Oregon. Medicaid covered her mammogram and breast cancer treatment, but she knew she was going to have to take time off work to recover from treatment.

Colleen is required to lift heavy objects as part of her daily work and knew she wouldn’t be able to continue that work while recovering from surgery. Breast cancer patients are often told to avoid lifting objects, even as little as 5 lbs., for weeks after surgery to give their bodies time to heal.

“I don’t make a lot of money, I live paycheck-to-paycheck and my husband is on disability,” she said. “I started to look for assistance that would help us.” One of the online breast cancer groups Colleen belongs to posted a list of resources, which is how she learned about Komen’s Financial Assistance Program.

Applying for Komen’s grant was quick and easy, and it did not take long for Colleen to be approved and receive the money. “I used it for rent and our electricity and phone bills. If I had not received the help, we would have had to go without the phone or food,” she said. “It would have been a hardship.”

The money from Komen was a lifesaver for Colleen and her husband. Ultimately, she had to take two full weeks off after surgery. “It took a huge weight off of me and lessened the amount of stress I had,” she said, noting that without Komen’s grant, she wouldn’t have been able to take as much time off after surgery as she did. “It helped close the gap when I didn’t have income. The grant allowed me to take care of myself while recovering from breast cancer.”

Colleen encourages women to get their annual mammograms. “My breast cancer was found during my first mammogram,” she said. “Breast cancer is scary and stressful at any age, and I’m thankful for the help I received from Komen during my unplanned health issue.”

Despite major advances in breast cancer treatment, many patients struggle to access care due to a host of financial pressures. Read how Komen is helping to alleviate the financial toxicity of breast cancer.