Desperately seeking healthcare, families turn to website - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Desperately seeking healthcare, families turn to website

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PHOENIX -

In this up and down economy, the worst thing that could happen to you is a serious illness or accident and you aren't covered by insurance.

A tale of two women -- Kammema Mattox-Renfro and Cari Seely Fonseca.

One lives in south Phoenix and runs her own catering business.  The other lives in north Phoenix and stays at home to care for her disabled adult son.

Two women bound together by a health crisis -- not for them, but for people they love.

"He tells me that he knows God is going to see him through this."

For Mattox-Renfro, it's her husband Elphonso, who was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer last September.

Laid off from his job as a transportation supervisor for a valley charity 18 months ago, Elphonso has no insurance.

"We're desperate here..his life is at stake, we're desperate," said Kammema.

For Cari, the battle is to get health care for her son Brandon.  When he was 21, he lost control of the car he was driving in Phoenix and suffered serious brain trauma.

That was years ago, but his greatest challenge right now is his mouth and teeth.

"He broke his lower mandible and crushed his jaw completely and so they put four plates and 16 screws in there and he's just had abscesses and infection into the jaw," said Cari.

Brandon began rubbing his jaw as his mother talked, showing where the pain is -- the infection is also dangerous.

His mother is frantic to find the funds for a solution.

"First surgeries were in excess of $25,000 and now these have been in excess of 30, so we're talking $50,000 in surgeries."

Back at Mattox-Renfro's, a similar financial hurdle faces them.

In October, when the cancer was discovered, the hospital put a port in Elphonso's body to receive the chemotherapy. But once it was discovered they had no insurance, no chemotherapy.

"But they told us we have to have a $50,000 deposit in order for him to start receiving the chemotherapy and obviously, we don't have that so he's not having chemotherapy," said Kammema.

Mattox-Renfro and Fonseca both desperate for health insurance or the cold hard cash to pay for healthcare.

"My husband is sick and he needs help and I've been trying to do everything I possibly can to get help.  I'm on the phone constantly..day and night..I'm on the computer," said Kammema.

Both women are seeking help on a web site called YouCaring.com.  It's a fundraising site that allows people who need money, usually for medical bills, to tell their story.  The ultimate hope is that people, many of them strangers who see their story on the web will donate money to their cause.

"So I don't feel any shame at all in that because I think anybody who cares about their spouse or child..they would do the exact same thing," said Kammema.

Cari adds, "It's hard to ask for help.  I have to humble myself. That's difficult -- that's probably the hardest part.  I'm still having a hard time with it.  But I can't do it all myself.  I just can't."

Both women have posted their stories on YouCaring.com and are waiting quite frankly for a miracle.

Fonseca walks with Brandon everyday. In fact, she is training for the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n Roll Marathon in the valley this month.

Team Brandon is running the race with a donated stroller.

Fonseca's goal is to raise awareness about traumatic brain injury.

Mattox-Renfro works at her catering business while caring for her husband. She says she's lost more than 70 pounds since he was diagnosed.

She is angry at times, mostly at Governor Jan Brewer, who she blames for dropping adults from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) who don't have children.

"She doesn't understand and what it's like and what we feel and what we're going through because it's heartbreaking to watch the person that you love fade away because you don't have health insurance," said Kammema.

YouCaring.com does not charge the thousands of people who post their stories online.  There are many success stories, these two women hope to become one of them.

Online:

www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/Brandon-s-Story/36864
www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/SAVING-FONZO/27273

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