Few people realize how financially devastating cancer is for many people. It drains one’s savings (even with good health insurance); it may disrupt one’s ability to earn a living in the short and long term; and incurs endless bills outside traditional “health care” that go on and on.
This is part of a series of personal stories about the financial (and very human) cost of cancer. You can find the earlier articles by searching #CancerCosts on the site.
I’ve been attempting to write this post for at least 8 weeks now. Most of the articles on this series highlight the financial devastation that too many adults incur as a direct result of a cancer diagnosis. I, however, was a child, an 8-year-old little girl, when I was diagnosed with cancer.
My losses could not be quantified in lost wages, eviction notices, or employment discrimination. No, my losses were those of a child.
I missed my third grade year of school; I LOVED school; I excelled in school.
I missed play time and sleepovers, giggles and makeovers, and truth or dare.
I missed being treated like everyone else;
I missed the expectation that I was capable though temporarily incapacitated at times.
I missed getting in trouble.
I missed having a voice raised to me when I didn’t do my chores.
I missed rough and tumbling with my older brother.
I missed dance and gymnastics.
I missed my shoulder length white blonde hair.
I missed birthday parties: balloons, cake, and ice cream.
I missed going outside whether in the sun or to play in the snow.
I missed feeling good, feeling strong, feeling like doing something, anything.
I missed feeling normal.
I missed being a child.
I miss a part of me I’ve never known.
These are the costs through the eyes of that 8-year-old child.
She has been a cancer patient, survivor, heart transplant recipient and documentary film producer.
As a child, she was successfully treated for Ewing’s Sarcoma. Her experience led her to become a nurse serving the physical, psychosocial, and educational needs of children, adolescents, and their families along the cancer trajectory.
Stephanie holds a B.A. in Psychology from Furman University, and a B.S., and M.S in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Florida. At Dartmouth, Stephanie helped establish the Survivorship Clinic with Eric Larsen, MD and Sara Chaffee, MD. This clinic provided ongoing personal support and education for childhood cancer survivors and their families.
In April 2008, Stephanie’s heart failed as a result of the radiation and Doxorubicin used to cure her Ewing’s Sarcoma as a child. She received a heart transplant at the Cleveland Clinic.
As a result of this experience, she co-produced an award winning documentary ‘Resilient: the Story of Late Effects of Cancer Treatment’, highlighting the challenges faced by survivors, families, and friends.
Stephanie resides in the metro Atlanta area with her husband and their 12-year-old-son. The Zimmermans enjoy everything from Formula One Racing and college & NFL football to go carting, ziplining, and cycling.
Please feel free to contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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