Traci Patton is a Licensed Master Social Worker based in Texas. She has a husband, six children, two dogs and a cat. Last year, Traci started having occasional days where she felt very tired. Her father encouraged her to visit her doctor and request medical tests to determine the cause of her fatigue. All of the tests were coming back fine, until one didn’t. Her doctor performed a biopsy to remove 27 lymph nodes, and every single one had cancer.
Traci said this diagnosis was “not unlike a car crash. It was sudden. It was unexpected. It was devastating.” Traci was thrust immediately into chemotherapy. She had doctor’s appointments nearly every day, and she underwent a double mastectomy within a week of her diagnosis.
“It was so much to process,” she said. “Your life changes in an instant and you’re plunged into this deep darkness. You have all these bills coming at you, test after test, you feel so sick all the time, and there’s lifelong side effects of the treatment to contend with. Every day is a new bill, or there’s bad news and a new heartache.”
Traci was out of work for several months while the bills for her treatment poured in. Traci’s director, Joy Villarreal, encouraged her to apply for help from the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund, but Traci resisted at first.
“We trimmed budgets, used up savings, and cashed in all our stocks,” Traci said. “My husband picked up extra shifts. While out of work, I still had to pay health and life insurance as well. I needed a $5,000 deposit to begin radiation–and they warned me that I couldn’t wait to come up with the money, or my cancer would start to come back.”
Finally, Traci took Joy’s advice and applied for help from the Hope Fund. When she learned she had been approved, she and her husband felt a powerful wave of relief.
“When a crisis hits, our colleagues are like family,” she said. “HCA Healthcare is about caring and compassion, not only for our patients but for our colleagues as well. In a very dark place, the Hope Fund came through and took some of the weight off our backs.”
“I urge those who have not made a commitment to donate to the Hope Fund to do so. Even a small donation can and will make a huge difference when coupled with the donations of others. I also urge those colleagues who are facing catastrophic issues, financial hardships, shocking medical diagnoses, or overwhelming life events to reach out to the Hope Fund. There really is help to be found, and a family to stand beside you.”
About Hope Fund
As HCA Healthcare employees, it is our top priority to take excellent care of our patients. But we also take care of each other. In 2004 this was more evident than ever as hundreds of our colleagues were affected by the Florida hurricanes. Immediately following the storms, HCA Healthcare employees throughout the United States wanted to know how they could help. Contributions came in and were disbursed out to HCA Healthcare families that had been impacted. To these families, the contributions from their fellow employees represented much more than financial relief. They represented hope that life might soon return to normal.