Breast cancer survivor wants help to regain independence
Fifty-five-year-old Prudence Lawrence says she has been pressed on every side.
But her willingness to live, and do so independently, is what drives her, despite ill health and numerous losses.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently losing her only income-earning stream, Lawrence said she faced the ultimate test through her ordeals.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and did a surgery in that year. In the following year I did chemotherapy, and in 2016, I did 25 rounds of radiation in a month,” she told The Gleaner.
Lawrence, who was required to visit the doctor every three months, said she is happy she is now required to return every six months.
But with limited opportunities to fund her medical care, Lawrence said her back is still against the wall.
“Every time I go in, I have to do blood tests, among other tests, and ultrasound. The last time I went, they said the left breast was a little dense. I was supposed to do a test and bring in the results, but there was no money to do it. They told me to do it and bring it in February 2021.”
Though thankful that she is in remission, Lawrence said the fear of the cancer coming back still lingers.
“I am still on medication, but I am having this issue with my back, maybe from the chemotherapy and radiation. This nerve pain is affecting me bad. Every week I have to buy medication for this, but right now I am out.”
She said though she is able to get some medication through the National Health Fund (NHF) at a discounted cost, she has to pay from pocket for others.
“Medication cost me about $10,000 per month, and even more. But most times, I just buy what the money I have can buy. If it wasn’t for NHF, I wouldn’t be able to do the chemo and radiation,” she noted.
The survivor, who started out as a merchandiser in 2012, said she lost all her wares in 2016 and was never able to restart the business.
“After going through the surgery and treatment in 2014 and 2015 and I felt well enough again, I decided to go back and sell. But the place I stored my goods was burnt down in December of 2016 and I lost everything one week before Christmas,” she lamented.
She said buying and selling was all she knew, but the unfortunate incident has totally derailed her.
“Is an uncle of mine who had given me some money to get goods and start this, but when you lose everything, it is hard,” said Lawrence.
She said she later took up a job in geriatric care, but fell on hard times, yet again, after her client died.
“Looking about the elderly, I did that for two weeks out of the month, that was my plan B. But the lady died last year.”
With her wish to always be able to provide for her needs, Lawrence said she again sought work, but this time her physical strength failed her.
“I started taking care of children, but, you know, it requires much more energy to deal with children, and I couldn’t manage all of them.”
Now Lawrence is without a job and seeking help to regain her independence.
“I would very much like a stable job. I have four CXC subjects. I know nobody is really hiring people my age now, but I wouldn’t mind being gainfully employed looking after the elderly or maybe one child.”
Each day, the breast cancer survivor says she has to look to God for strength, as the struggles are often too much for her to bear.
“Where I am living now in Spanish Town, I had to move here because I needed to be near someone who could help me when I was sick, and this is where my sister is. But I owe a lot of rent and it is too much for me now ... .”
Lawrence said she would be grateful if she got a stable job and land on which to build a one-bedroom house.
“I have had some really good people in my corner and I am grateful to God for them, through my sickness and all now; but, you know, you can’t expect people to always be handing out to you. I want to be independent, to manage on my own”
To assist Prudence Lawrence, call (876)417-8723.