PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A cancer diagnosis isn't just an emotional toll; it's a financial burden. The actual treatment and medication is only half the battle, everyday expenses that were once taken for granted become a huge stress.
Women with Purpose is a nonprofit organization helping patients in Pinellas County with the pressures of cancer outside of the hospital.
Jane Morse-Swett visits about 50 homes a year, carrying an envelope of gift cards, ready to help with life's necessities.
"We pay their rents, their mortgages, electric bills, anything that is nonmedical," said Morse-Swett.
Women With Purpose is made up of volunteers who know what these patients are going through because many of them went through it themselves.
"They're unable to do the things they were able to do in the past, and it's devastating," said Morse-Swett.
Cree Thompson is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She never thought she'd be forced to choose between paying her bills or paying for her pills.
"And she actually paid the bills for us. The organization paid the bills," said Thompson. "I really appreciate that there are people out there that still care, and they will help you, and sometimes you feel like they've given you the shirt off their back."
Then there's Angela Mehas, who was paying a $1,500 deductible every time she went for chemo.
"I have two mortgages on my house, a first and second, and I was three payments behind on both. I was getting ready to lose my house," said Mehas.
On top of that, Mehas was also caring for a son with special needs.
"And it's not just the patient that's sick that you are helping; it's the entire family," said Morse-Swett.
Mehas remembers receiving gift cards in the mail, not only saving her home but keeping food on the table and gas in her car.
"The generosity is overwhelming when you are in that position; it just is," said Mehas.
Morse-Swett said the generosity only goes as far as the donations they receive, and right now, they are down 50%.
"With the Covid, it has been really, really rough," said Morse-Swett.
Angela and Cree said they can't wait until they are the ones bearing gifts, knocking on the doors of others in need.
"To be able to hold someone else's hand like Women with Purpose held my hand, I would like to give back," said Thompson.
For more information, go to www.womenwithpurposefl.org.