Thankfully this not my story, this is an email I received today...Frank is a friend from some 15 years ago I recently regained contact with. This is his brother on laws plea. I know in todays world money is not given lightly, neither is this request. Please read and feel no guilt if you cannot help, but if you can please do what you can. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this simple, yet powerful story.
Before this story begins, I just want to explain that this is written to all of you from a very deep need. It is a story of greed, of cancer confronted and overcome, of big medical bills, and of the creative power of love, and hope, and friendship. It is also a very true story about my beautiful sister, Krista, her husband Frank, and their 4 year old daughter Maya, who are now in a very difficult circumstance.
I hope you can take the time to read this letter. It is not meant to be political. It is simply a real illustration of what can happen when a family falls through the cracks of the health care system in this country. With your help, one family, Krista and Frank’s family, will not fall through those cracks.
It is my hope that Krista and Frank’s story will cut across political party lines, positions, and unexamined prejudices, and remind us of how fragile we are, how fragile our lives are, and how dependent we are upon each other when things go wrong.
But why are Krista, Frank, and Maya confronting a possible medical bankruptcy? Here is their story.
Just a few months ago, Krista, Frank, and Maya were a pretty typical, hard-working, middle-class American family with the feeling that their health was good and their future secure. Today however, they are on the verge of bankruptcy due to overwhelming medical bills - Medical Bankruptcy- as it is now called. On December 1st, they will be about 5,000 dollars short of their monthly bills. A recent study estimates that medical-caused bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans each year, including 700,000 children. Many people are suffering with this problem- and like many others, Krista and Frank never thought anything like this would happen to them. Now they are another family added to this statistic.
How did this happen?
A few months ago, in late July, Krista, was struck, out of the blue, with a crippling pain in her abdomen. The pain was so severe she felt she might be dying. She went immediately to an urgent care facility to find out what was wrong. After an exam, blood work, and an ultrasound, she went home to await the results of the tests. Later that night her doctor called to tell her there was a cyst on her ovary. It was 8 cm in circumference, a little bigger than a tennis ball.
She was concerned, of course, about the cyst, but she had health insurance, and was hopeful that the cyst was nothing serious.The next day she went to see her doctor. After a brief exam, the doctor said that her ovary would have to be surgically removed, and that a biopsy would be needed. So she went to the surgery center, scheduled an appointment for surgery, and then went home to call her health insurance broker to make sure the surgery would be covered. That phone call turned her life upside down.
Her insurance broker told her that her health insurance had lapsed at the end of May and stated that the company would not honor any claims made after May 31, 2009. This could not be true. Krista, whose insurance was supposed to be covered by State Continuation, explained to her broker that she had been sending her premium payments to her previous employer. Her broker said “I’m sorry, but we have not received your premiums and your surgery will not be covered.” Her next statement seemed impossible to believe. Krista was told that her employer had stolen her payments. He had kept the money she had sent for her premium payments and and diverted them into his own account. And now he was bankrupt as well. Turns out he had stolen millions of dollars from his investors as well. At this point Krista faced surgery without any insurance. But it was not an option to forego surgery, in spite of the out of pocket expense. The cyst might be serious and had to be removed.
At the time of the surgery, the doctor believed it was a benign cyst. But after her surgery, the news was bad. I came across my mother listening over the phone as Krista told her the results. My mother was crying and I had never seen her look so scared and sad. “Krista has cancer,” she said, “the tumor is cancerous.” Cancer. Besides the seeming death penalty and the uncertainty and fear of being diagnosed with cancer, there was now the issue of trying to pay for major surgery without any health insurance. Her parents would help to pay for the costs of the surgery from their retirement funds, but they could not cover the total cost of the surgery without great financial risk to their security.
Now, in addition to the bills and recovery from the first surgery for the removal of the tumor, Krista’s second surgery would mean a total hysterectomy, appendectomy, omentomectomy, and lymphadenectomy, followed by biopsies of the small and large intestine, and colon. The surgery was invasive, extreme, and would mean the end of her ability to bear children. And of course, without insurance, it would be extremely expensive and far beyond their means to pay.
Today it has been over a month since Krista’s second surgery. In the end, she was very lucky. The cancer was caught in a very early stage. She is recovering well and her prognosis is good. There was no metastasis of the tumor and she is cancer free. She will need to go in every 3 months of this first year post-op for blood work and exams. She will need to go back every 6 months for the next five years. She is very grateful that the worst part of the journey is over. And she knows that there are others who go through much worse.
The lasting blow is not the cancer, but the medical bills, which have run close to 15,000.00 dollars. This is a figure that they were not prepared to pay. And of course, because of our current system, there is no health insurance company that will cover her. She and Frank have sold everything they can to raise money for their bills, but they get a bill almost everyday, a reminder that they fought cancer and now have to pay dearly for it.
How You Can Help
With your help, this story could have a very happy ending. But you will need to do something generous at the end. It isn’t much, but it is very important, and will be a great help. The only thing you will need to do is to buy one paper crane: Frank’s original painting of one paper crane. The price you can afford to pay for the paper crane painting will be yours to decide. The crane painting is an original piece of Frank Stanley artwork-1 in a series of 1,000- and it will be sent to you as a symbol of your caring and your generosity. Your purchase of one paper crane painting will help to save Krista, Frank, and Maya from medical bankruptcy.
Why One Paper Crane?
There is an ancient Japanese legend which promises that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted the fulfillment of a wish, such as long life, or recovery from illness, or injury. In Asia, it is commonly said that folding 1000 paper origami cranes will make a person's wish come true. As an artist, Frank was looking for a way to use his creativity to help raise funds for his family’s medical bills. And he wanted to do something beautiful for his wife. In his search, he came across the legend of the 1,000 paper cranes. And he decided that since he was a painter, and not so great at origami, he would paint 1,000 origami cranes as a way to raise funds, and to use the proceeds of the sale to help stave off medical bankruptcy.
If you are in any position to help Krista and Frank by buying one painting of a paper crane, it would be a great help to their family. Frank’s goal is to paint and sell 1,000 Cranes for Krista, and hopes to raise enough money to pay their medical bills and hopefully be able to help others in similar situations. http://playgroundartstudios.com
How To Get Your Paper Crane Painting
At the end of this story, there is a link to Frank’s website. There you can choose one of the crane paintings he has already created, or you can request a custom painting.
How Much Should I Donate for the Crane?
Krista and Frank’s medical bills are approaching 15,000 dollars. To make it through December, they will need at least 5,000 dollars. There is no set price for a painting. We simply ask you to give as much as you feel you can. Anything you can do will be of help.
Krista and Frank’s Story- In their Own Words
If you would like to read more details of Krista and Frank’s story in their own words, the rest of the story is right here.