Over 11 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with cancer and it's one of the five most costly medical conditions across the nation. So much so, the cost has forced many patients to make decisions about their health-care and cancer treatment based on finances -- not necessarily on what is best for their health.
Hardship comes and it goes; and it's overstayed its welcome here and has been lingering inside the Llanas home for the last three years.
“It was just repeating one after the other,” said Navasota resident Launita Llanas. “It was my dad first and then after that it was my cousin.”
Launita Llanas lost her father to cancer in May of 2010; her 27-year-old cousin died while battling cancer of the uterus; not long after that -- her family would learn their hardship wasn't over just yet.
“Right after my dad passed away I got diagnosed; it hit the kids really hard,” Llanas explained.
Llanas had been diagnosed with cancer of the uterus at only 35.
“It was a fast growing cancer,” Llanas said. “After they took my blood, the doctor was like, “How are you even alive right now?” and I was just completely shocked.”
The following weeks and months would involve her quitting her job of cleaning houses to undergo doctor visits, facing thousands of dollars in surgeries, medications, chemo and radiation.
“My doctor did not want me to work and I tried to apply for disability and they denied me because they said my husband makes too much money,” said Llanas.
With bills piling up and fear of losing their home -- Launita says she got a job anyway.
"I mean I have to help some kind of way; I feel like I've put them through so much, I’m so (pause) sorry,” Llanas cried. “I'm working. Some days are good, and some aren't so good, but I push through and I go anyway.”
Llanas says at times she'll forfeit going to the doctor to pay the light bill.
"I have insurance and still, sometimes my medication can cost up to $700 in one pop, so what do you do? You either pay the light bill or you don't and get the lights turned off. Then what?"
But the work doesn't stop there. Aside from the sun beaming through the window, a small lamp is the only light source in the dining room -- which Launita's husband Juan transformed into a wood shop. Juan says all the lights in the entire house shorted out three years ago and haven't worked ever since.
He's a full-time welder and has picked up carpentry to make extra money.
“We're making these signs for the yard so that we can catch up on bills and not lose home from, from, my all of the costs of medication and chemo,” said Llanas.
While the family doesn't know what tomorrow may hold -- they'll continue to stick together to continue their drive to survive.
"I don't know if I'm going to beat this, but I'm going to try my hardest that's for sure," Llanas said.
Hard financial times for Llanas' immediate family have caused both Juan and Launita to take in two family members and their children -- which means the two of them alone are supporting 11 people in their six bedroom house.
Checks may be made payable to the Llanas Family Benefit and mailed to The Examiner c/o Editor Rosemary Smith at 115 Railroad Street, Navasota TX 77868 or deposited in the Llanas Family Benefit Account at Citizens State Bank. Inquiries about monetary or clothes donations should be directed to Rosemary Smith at 936-825-6484/cell 832-361-2019.