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Tiffy’s Story: I Didn’t Have To Worry About Medical Bills But I Couldn’t Afford Daily Expenses

Tiffy Creasy was 29 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer in September 2022. Her treatment has included chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and radiation therapy. She is in ongoing treatment that will last for five years to reduce her chances of a breast cancer recurrence.  

As a teenager, I’d had cysts in my breasts that were benign, they were small and round.  

This time, I could feel that the shape in my breast was different, it was protruding against my skin, so not only could I feel it, but I could also see it. This wasn’t normal for me; this was something different than the cysts. I also had some red blotchiness that started to appear. I called my gynecologist, and she got me in, then sent me to a different facility for a breast biopsy

I was working as a shift manager at a local fast-food restaurant. I didn’t have insurance through my employer due to the cost, but something last year, before my diagnosis, told me to get health insurance, so I did. I went to the healthcare marketplace and purchased insurance. 

I had to meet a deductible, but that was pretty much met when I had my port placed, which was one of the first days of my treatment. After that, I didn’t have to really worry about my medical bills because I had met the deductible.  

But I still needed help. I had to stop working in September of 2022 because I wasn’t sure what this journey was going to bring me. And I didn’t want to put my workplace like in a position of: “Are you going to be here? Is she going be able to do her job?” I take pride in the work that I do but I also didn’t want to put extra pressure on me as far as being able to do what I need to do to care for myself.  

I had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat my triple positive breast cancer. The chemotherapy gave me an absolute rubbish time. And the radiation…I was told it was going to be like a sunburn, but being melanated, I’ve never experienced a sunburn. The radiation got me very badly. It looks like second degree burns on my skin. 

For all these reasons, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work during treatment, I worried about what we were going to do. I live with my grandmother and she’s on a fixed income from social security, but her income mostly goes to household bills. We needed money to eat, we needed groceries in the house. We needed personal items. I had to use a lot of lotion because my skin was just horrible from treatment. I needed nausea meds, head coverings, gas to get to and from treatment.  

Right after I was diagnosed, my insurance provider assigned me someone similar to a financial adviser and a nurse. They were available if I needed to talk to someone. My mind was going a million miles a minute – I knew there were foundations to help people going through breast cancer, but I didn’t even know where to start. They provided me with a list of places to contact and Susan G. Komen was at the top of the list.  

I applied for a $500 grant through Komen’s Financial Assistance Program and that money gave me the ability to breathe for just a moment and not worry about the cloud of finances. I could think about my own well-being – mentally, emotionally and physically. Everyone I spoke with at Komen was knowledgeable, sincere and helpful, which made the process even easier for me. I’m grateful for the help they were able to give me.  

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.   

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.