7979 N Shadeland Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46250
December of 2016 marked 14 months of Michelle Mann caring for her husband as he battled glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. It also was the month she was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer.
She was shocked – the physical, emotional and financial burden would be even harder to bear. Yet, she knew where to turn. She connected with Community Health Network’s Sumeet Bhatia, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician practicing medical oncology, who also was treating her husband.
For Michelle, the primary cancerous tumor was located in her pancreas. Dr. Bhatia recommended surgery, which occurred in February of 2017, and chemotherapy, which began shortly thereafter in April.
Between Michelle and her husband’s treatments and visits to Dr. Bhatia’s office, they were frequently at Community.
“We saw excellence at every front, from the housekeeping staff to Dr. Bhatia and his team,” Michelle said. “Each person made you feel really special and at ease, despite all of the patients in their care.”
For Michelle and her husband, Community’s support went beyond medical expertise – it also included financial support.
When Michelle’s husband, who served as a Sergeant First Class in the Indiana Army National Guard, was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2015, the family’s financial situation took a hit.
“He had to stop working, and, when his last paycheck came in before disability kicked in, that was it – there was no more money coming in,” Michelle explained.
While waiting on disability to begin, Michelle tried searching for support for men or veterans with cancer but, overall, came up short.
Fortunately, Jean Clifford, a social worker at Community stepped in to help. She offered Michelle and her husband a $250 voucher through the Oncology Patient Assistance Fund which they used to purchase much-needed food.
“Community was the one place that had help and reached out to people to offer it,” she said. “Without this support, we would have had to wonder where and how we would get our next meal. For some, it is a matter of eating or not.”
In March of 2017, Michelle’s husband passed away. She had just received another Oncology Patient Assistance Fund voucher, which helped while she was coping with his loss, making funeral arrangements and spending time with their three children and extended family.
A few weeks later, Jean Clifford, who had developed a relationship with her and her husband over the last year and a half, nominated Michelle to participate in Faces of The Giving Gig, which is a group of cancer fighters who share their story and inspire additional support for the Oncology Patient Assistance Fund. Michelle was humbled and honored and instantly knew she wanted to participate.
“You have no idea how much that voucher means to people,” she said. “It’s just one less thing you have to worry about at that time. If I can help spread the word and get people to donate and help others like me and my husband, that’s what this is all about.”