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Our friend Claudia is our inspired example of resiliency. She never takes ‘No’ for an answer…thank God.

In 2006, Claudia was diagnosed with Stage 0 Breast Cancer at the age of 26. Early age plus early stage – a good combination. She would fight her battle and she would win. Claudia now knew she was a survivor, a fighter… and she never forgot that. But, she didn’t know she would use those life lessons again so soon.

Four years later, after a routine mammogram, Claudia received news that the radiologist found a suspiciously abnormal area in her breast. She underwent a biopsy and with a sigh of relief, received a clean bill of health. A metal clip was inserted into her breast during the procedure so that future diagnostics could easily identify the location.

Last year, Claudia discovered a lump in her right breast, the opposite side this time. She thought it was best to visit the previous biopsy surgeon for consistency. He reassured her that the lump was simply her body’s reaction to the installed clip. Although Claudia listened, she did not accept his answer…she knew something wasn’t right. Claudia tried to pursue another diagnosis but it was a long, uphill battle.

Claudia's level of insurance, in addition to the absence of doctor's direct referral, prohibited her from getting appointments prior to those with preferred insurance plans. But, finally, after a year of waiting...a relieved Claudia arrived at her much anticipated MRI appointment. When checking in, she learned that her doctor cancelled the appointment and downgraded her prescription to an ultrasound…a procedure that would cause an additional 4 week delay.

After her ultrasound, Claudia received a message underscored with grave concern. Only then did things progress into high gear… MRI, bone scan, PET scan, oncologist, and follow up testing. Claudia, now 34, listened as the doctor said the most terrifying words…’Claudia, your cancer has returned. This time it is worse. Stage 3, more aggressive, and not suitable for surgery because the tumor has grown 2 cm in 2 weeks.’ She wished her instincts had been wrong.

Claudia now undergoes intense chemotherapy every 2 weeks for 5 months. Each treatment is $16,000…that’s $32,000 a month…$160,000 for 5 months. This does not include medicine or doctor’s visits which are specifically $740 a visit and Claudia’s insurance only covers 40% of overall bills and only $70 of each doctor’s visit. She requested a payment plan from her premiere NYC hospital, and they simply advised her to move to another facility.

Claudia’s doctor has instructed her to stop working and rest. But, to maintain her insurance, she must work part time and is considering taking on babysitting jobs on the side to make ends meet. She also needs to move closer to friends who can help her, and to reduce her work commute. She is a single mother to a 12 year old and continues to send money back to her family in Paraguay to sustain their living expenses. So, this financial burden not only affects her life, but the life of her extended family.

Please consider walking / running or sponsoring our friend Claudia of Weehaken, and eventually Parsippany with STEPS TOGETHER. Let’s show her that strength can be found in the most unlikely places… someone she’s never even met. Thank you for listening.

Please make your check payable to Claudia Arostegui.