Little did I know when I pledged Phi Mu in the Fall of 1979 that all the years later my sisters would be lifelong friends and sustain me through the most difficult time of my life. In September of 2018 at the tender age of 57, I became a bride for the first time. The wedding was put together in exactly two weeks. My husband had been diagnosed with liver cancer just six weeks prior and I was so blessed to have several of my Phi Mus sisters rearrange their schedules to share in the event! Unfortunately, after that day things began to spiral downward.
My husband began chemotherapy and even though he was uncomfortable he remained stable. However, in December I was unexpectedly laid off from my job. Our primary concern was insurance since we didn’t want to experience any interruption of his care. As you can imagine, even with COBRA this was quite expensive. While we had savings, a cancer diagnosis can quickly drain your resources, especially if there is no more money coming in. He remained stable and I immediately began looking for another job. However, in February we learned that in addition to liver cancer he also had colon cancer which would need surgery. At this point, he was requiring quite a bit of care. At this time I began to realize even if I was able to get a job I didn’t know how I would be able to work and take care of him at the same time.
He was recovering nicely and remained stable, but after about six weeks while undergoing a routine procedure he suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed and in the hospital for the remaining 33 days of his life. During this time, my Phi Mu sisters continued to support me in every way possible with prayers, calls, texts and one dear friend came and stayed with us the last week of my husband’s life so that I could go home and take a shower and rest. When she arrived she brought a card with a substantial financial gift from my Phi Mus sisters. I was shocked because many of the women listed I had not seen or kept in touch with over the years. The gift helped me get through the next month because I was in no way able to seek employment.
During this time a friend from another sorority asked me if Phi Mu had any kind of grant for people who were experiencing financial hardship. This is when I became aware of the Leona Hughes Heart and Hand Fund. I applied for assistance with my mortgage. I was approved and thankful to receive the generous grant. I never expected to find myself in a position where I would have to ask for this type of help, but I was treated with dignity and respect and the grant allowed me some time to make sure I found the right job. I am pleased to say I did return to work in September 2019 and couldn’t be happier with my new job. Thank you for your contribution to the Leona Hughes Heart and Hand Fund. Your gift is making a difference in lives. I know it did in mine.
You can lend a helping hand to sisters just like Jill with a gift to the Foundation’s Member Assistance Funds. Click here to give today.