Maya: Beating the Odds

Maya: Beating the Odds Mercy Medical Angels

Maya is beating the odds!

Neuroblastoma Struggles

Maya was only 5 months old when she was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma.The doctors managed to get the cancer into remission. But just before her second birthday, she suffered a relapse. Since then, she’s been in and out of aggressive treatment for neuroblastoma. Her risk for another relapse or developing a secondary cancer is very high, because of all the radiation treatments. Because of this risk, she has to travel to New York for continued monitoring and treatment.

“Sometimes we had to travel as often as every two weeks, or monthly,” said Amber, who is Maya’s mother. “We have been traveling for nearly ten years. Even though she only needs to go a few times a year now, it has become extremely difficult for us to pay for travel.”

Odds Are Difficult With Neuroblastoma…

Aside from being in and out of the hospital, Maya’s family doesn’t have the resources to pay for repeated flights to New York. Worse, Maya and her family lives in California – almost 2,500 miles away from the treatment center. But the long-distance travel to treatment is saving her life, and preventing further problems.

Maya’s life was hanging in the balance. The odds were difficult enough without the added burden of traveling to treatment. Her family was running out of resources – and worse, running out of time.

…But Not Impossible

That’s when Mercy Medical Angels and Hogan Foundation stepped in. Mercy Medical Angels arranged travel from Maya’s home in California to to New York, while Hogan Foundation paid for the tickets.

“They really saved money we didn’t have,” said Amber. “Providing us with flights covered the financial costs of transportation to Maya’s cancer treatment.” She adds, “We are so appreciative.”

“A Special Group of Angels”

Now, Maya is 12 years old and doing much better. She will need help getting to her treatments for neuroblastoma in the future. Mercy Medical Angels and Hogan Foundation will continue to help her get there.

Amber has a message to potential donors: “If someone asked me whether they should give to Mercy Medical Angels, I would tell them they absolutely should!” She adds, “I would tell our story and explain how we wouldn’t be able to continue treatment without them.”

“They’re an amazing organization… what a special group of angels!”

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Tabitha: Healing From the Heart

Tabitha: Healing From the Heart Mercy Medical Angels

Flights For Her Heart

Tabitha has flown with the volunteer pilot program of Mercy Medical Angels for a few years. She has a number of rare diseases, some of which affect her heart. Because she can’t find treatment near her home in the Outer Banks, she has to fly to Cleveland Clinic. Luckily, the volunteer pilots are always there to help her.

“They go above and beyond,” said Tabitha, “and I’m so grateful. They did great.”

New Challenges…

Recently, Tabitha had to fly back to Cleveland Clinic because one of the artificial heart valves calcified. She needs to have it replaced. This will require surgery on her heart.

A scan also found lesions in her neck, which could be cancerous. Tabitha has to make another flight to Cleveland Clinic to find out the next steps.

On top of all this, a connective tissue disorder is causing her to live in pain. “But the heart was the worst pain.” said Tabitha.

…and New Beginnings

But it’s not all darkness in Tabitha’s life. Sunbeams of hope are peeking through the clouds of illness, sending light to her heart. She recently welcomed more grandkids to the family. As her family grows, she tries to keep in touch with as many as she can.

Tabitha said, “Ever since surgery, I try to make a memory.” For example, her daughter used to be terrified of flying. Tabitha planned a birthday surprise – an airplane ride! The two of them had a lot of fun, and it was a birthday to remember.

One of Tabitha’s grandchildren is starting high school. He helped her out over the summer, and introduced her to his friends. “All of his friends call me grandma,” said Tabitha. In return, she’s teaching him the basics of driving.

Straight From The Heart

If someone asked Tabitha about donating to Mercy Medical Angels, she has an answer ready. “Even if you never meet them, you’ve probably saved someone’s life. You’ve extended a family’s time and memories. You may need the help someday.”

Tabitha adds, “You can see who you helped on Twitter and other social media. So you know where the donation’s going. If you’re thinking of giving, give to Mercy Medical Angels.”

Despite all her challenges, Tabitha remains optimistic. She says, “Everything’s a blessing.” Thanks to the people who support Mercy Medical Angels, patients like Tabitha can follow their hearts to healing.

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Paul: Purple Heart Veteran Meets His New Best Friend

Paul: Purple Heart Veteran Meets His New Best Friend Mercy Medical Angels

Battle Scarred, Purple Heart

Paul is a veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Afghanistan. One day, he was on patrol with his fellow soldiers in a vehicle. That was when disaster struck: their vehicle ran over a roadside bomb. The impact of the blast threw him and the other soldiers onto the road. Some of them were killed instantly. “I lost some of my closest friends that day,” said Paul. After this event, Paul put on a tough façade so he could keep fighting. He was awarded a Purple Heart.

Even Heroes Need Help

But when Paul got home, he started having problems with his memory. Also, he couldn’t go out in crowds and started having nightmares and flashbacks. “I knew I needed help,” said Paul.

He went to the nearest VA hospital. A doctor at the VA diagnosed him with a Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress. The doctor also suggested a service dog to help Paul. Unfortunately, the best service dog facility was in Texas, hundreds of miles away from his home in Virginia. “I was going down a dark road,” said Paul.

“My New Best Friend”

Luckily, Mercy Medical Angels’ veterans program was able to help him. The non-profit provided free airline tickets so Paul could travel to Texas. Once in Texas, he received his service dog, Chase. Chase is an intelligent German Shepherd. He can sense when Paul is having a nightmare or flashback, and helps him navigate stressful situations. His vest is purple and gold, to represent the Purple Heart that Paul was awarded. Paul said that Chase is “my new best friend.”

When asked what he would say to potential donors, Paul gets choked up. “I don’t know how to thank Mercy Medical Angels enough. They are heaven-sent, helping us Veterans when we need it the most. They helped save my life.”

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Johnnie: Beating Pancreatic Cancer

Johnnie: Beating Pancreatic Cancer Mercy Medical Angels

Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis

Seven years ago, Johnnie was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Because of the disease, he had to quit his job and apply for disability benefits. After two years, he had to apply for Medicare as well. Johnnie couldn’t find adequate treatment in his home state of Alabama. Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Illinois offered him flight assistance so he could receive radiation and chemo.

Red Tape

“This is where things got all messed up,” said Johnnie. A representative from Medicare told him that the cancer center couldn’t help with transportation anymore. “And just like that, my transportation to treatment ended.”

Mercy Medical Angels to the Rescue

Luckily for Johnnie, he found out about Mercy Medical Angels. Mercy Medical Angels provided flight assistance for Johnnie, so he could go to the treatments he needed. “In my mind,” said Johnnie, “they are nothing short of a godsend!”

As of 2015, Johnnie is in remission. “My cancer mysteriously vanished,” he said, “much to the amazement of my medical team.” However, the team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America wanted to be on the safe side. They required Johnnie to go back once a year for scans and blood tests. This was to make sure the cancer would not return; if it did, they could stop it early. Mercy Medical Angels has continued to fly him to checkups for the past four years. “Every time I have contacted them, they have been very professional and caring.”

“You Have Been My Angels”

Johnnie dyes his beard purple, the color for pancreatic cancer. He says, “It’s a great conversation starter so I can share with folks my journey.” It’s a journey that Mercy Medical Angels made possible.

“If it weren’t for the assistance from Mercy Medical Angels, I am not sure what I would have done. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you. You have been my angels!”

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