I’m going to tell you a story that sounds like it can’t possibly be true. But I promise, it is. This is happening to one military family right now.
When the Combes family – Matt, Shawnna and their kids -- were stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State, they lived across the street from an older German woman and former military spouse who occasionally babysat for them. When they found out that her home was riddled with toxic mold they invited her to stay with them. She never left.
They call her “Oma.”
Oma’s husband divorced her after over 18 years of marriage, leaving her just short of qualifying for TRICARE as a divorcee -- a situation many former military spouses have found themselves in. When they discovered she had ovarian cancer the family looked to the state, a cancer support charity and their savings account to help cover the costs.
When the Combes PCSed to Fort Campell, Ky. they took Oma with them (of course). She helped Shawnna have a baby while Matt was deployed. And in a community where no kid has an Oma of his own nearby, she is everyone’s adopted grandma.
She isn’t just the Combe’s Oma. She is our Oma.
But Oma’s cancer has come back. No longer just in her ovaries, it has spread throughout her entire body. TRICARE does not cover her, the state has denied her and cancer charity after cancer charity has turned her away for one reason or another. Shawnna has maxed out seven credit cards trying to pay medical costs. Last month when Oma was prescribed four day’s worth of antibiotics the cost of them – over $150 – came out of Shawnna’s shallow pocket. The family is sitting on a mound of medical debt at $200,000 and growing.
You always hear politicians say people are choosing between groceries and life saving medications. And you always think “yeah, that doesn’t happen.” At least I know I do.
But it’s happening right now to a military family. Right now, at Fort Campbell, a military family is basing their grocery choices off what money they have after they pay for hundreds of dollars of unsubsidized cancer medications.
This is our community. As military families we know that we cannot survive the battles life gives us – deployment, injury, emotion – without the support of our friends and the family we create for ourselves along our journey.
This family needs our help. This is just as much about fighting the cost of cancer as it is about fighting cancer itself. Shawnna, Matt and their brood of military kids should not be punished because they love someone not even related to them enough to literally pay anything to keep her alive.
This isn’t about politics, elections, campaigns or health care policy. This is about DOING something for a very real, struggling military family.
Click here to donate to Team Oma and help fight, Fight, FIGHT. Crying “Uncle” isn’t in the DNA of military families. We can’t let cancer and the cost of fighting it win this one.
What will you do to help? Visit Team Oma's page now to contribute.