In January 2012, 34-year-old Haley Son Kim of Plano, TX discovered a lump on top of her left breast, and by the end of February, her breast cancer was confirmed by an oncologist. With the very real goal of wanting to see her young daughter Taylor grow up and have kids of her own someday, Haley opted to start aggressive treatment immediately in March which included telling her 4th grade class she would be leaving them to go into the hospital, completing a double mastectomy, and shaving her head rather than have to lose her hair to the chemotherapy that would start shortly after her surgery.
Unfortunately, Haley’s fight is not unique; 1 in 8 US women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Over 1 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and 465,000 women will lose the fight and their lives. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among woman in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer death in women. What is new, however, is Haley’s Gift – the not for-profit organization whose mission is to create a community of hope for young women with breast cancer by providing financial assistance toward their treatment and recovery.
A recent study has found a troubling link between illness and debt: people diagnosed with cancer, it seems, are more likely to file personal bankruptcy. This study, conducted over 14 years with over 200,000 participants, discovered that after one year of treatment, cancer patients are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy as the general population. The unfortunate truth is that long-term illnesses, such as cancer, can damage a person’s finances in two ways: high debt for medical treatments and services needed as well as loss of wages due to missed work or even job loss.
While there are many efforts to diagnose breast cancer early through screening and education or eradicate breast cancer altogether through research and development, the purpose of Haley’s Gift is to help the individual today. All funds raised by Haley’s Gift will help pay expenses associated with the cost of breast cancer treatment for women aged 40 and under who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and who reside in the United States.
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