Wednesday, December 20, 2000
DALLAS -- She was called the miracle patient three years ago after surviving triple brain aneurysms. Mary Crawford could use another miracle now. She's fighting breast cancer, skin cancer and diabetes, all of which her doctors diagnosed in August.
"They say I'm doing well now. I just have to hang in there. The waiting is the hardest part," Crawford said. She discovered a lump in her right breast in August and may have been able to have a lumpectomy but doctors discovered skin cancer on the breast so they advised her to have a radical mastectomy.
As she was preparing for surgery, the blood tests revealed she had diabetes. Now, several months after the surgery, she travels to Salem every few weeks for a chemotherapy treatment. The treatments will continue through March.
"With the aneurysms, I had the operations and the recuperation was long, but nothing like this."
Crawford has been a child care provider for 11 years but now the chemotherapy has sapped her strength and weakened her immune response.
"When the kids have colds, if I've just had a treatment I have to stay away from them. I just come back to my room and watch TV, read or crochet."
Since her recent illness, Crawford's daughter, sister and mother have been taking care of the six children Crawford has in her care.
"I tried doing day care one day but it was all I could do to handle it until one o'clock in the afternoon. I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open."
Crawford's health problems are complicated this time around by her husband's job change. Their new insurance has an annual family deductible of $3,000 and only pays 60 percent of the cost of the chemotherapy treatments. Since the treatments won't be finished until next year, Crawford will have to pay another deductible in January.
Crawford's sister suggested she set up a fund at the bank to accept donations to help pay for her medical care. Crawford checked it out with the Dallas branch of Bank of America. Bank officials told her it was legal as long as she designated someone else to write checks from the account. The money can only be used to pay for medical treatment. She has decided to donate any funds remaining in the account to children's cancer research.
Crawford knows she's lucky to have a supportive family to help her through.
"My husband doesn't leave my side. He doesn't even go hunting or fishing without me. I was worried about how he would feel after I lost my breast and all my hair. When my hair was falling out in patches I asked him to shave it off. After he shaved my head, he and my son went in and shaved theirs too. I thought that was really neat."