“It breaks my heart. I feel like I’m letting them down,” Nicole Harris said in an interview with Medical Reporter Meg Farris.
SLIDELL, La. – A Slidell mother in her late 40s, hoped for a chance to try experimental treatment to save her life, but she continued to encounter obstacles that stood in the way of her chance of survival. After a story about her plight appeared on WWL-TV, the community responded with an abundance we could never have imagined.
Two weeks ago, WWL-TV shared Nicole Harris’s story. A single mother, dying of cancer, encountered roadblocks to possible treatment with cost, distance and insurance issues. When Medicaid wouldn’t pay her to go to an out-of-town clinical trial, she lost hope.
“And, uh, there’s no way I could possibly get that kind of money. I mean, I’m sitting here with a treatment that could grip me for years, and I wouldn’t be able to get it,” said Nicole Harris, 49, crying on Nov. 17.
Her main concern was leaving her three children.
“It breaks my heart. I feel like I’m letting them down,” she said crying on November 17.
In addition, the disability would not occur because she still had the stimulation money in her account. But after Nicole’s story aired, the donations started pouring in. Two separate groups, all strangers to the Harris family, asked for their Christmas list.
“Her story touched me because I’ve survived breast cancer for 20 years, and I saw it, and the first thing I thought when I was diagnosed was what would happen to my kids,” says Tiffany McGary, who calls her outreach. Project Blessings.
With the help of corporate sponsors and Covington councilor Peter Lewis, Tiffany McGary played Santa Claus. There is clothing, electronics and more. She is working to get the oldest son, Damien, a car before she goes to college next year. Another group, who wanted to stay in the background, also came with arms full. The three children, who are still in school, have no idea.
“It’s just overwhelming. I just couldn’t believe all the offers we had of things. I had to turn people down and say we’ve had enough, and maybe there’s another family they can help,” said Linda Brister, Nicole’s mother.
Neighbors donated a beach trip to the family to create memories. The government called and said they would return any disability benefits they never sent. A Florida family, strangers again, came and decorated the entire house and raked the front yard. The Go Fund Me account went way above its target for college funds.
And that’s not all. After our story ran, an internationally renowned oncologist called. He said he wanted to do everything to treat Nicole and save her life, but she was never able to make it to the appointment.
That’s because Nicole went into hospice last week. Her pain and struggles ended on Thanksgiving night.
“It was the whole family that gathered around her, put our hands on her and told her it was okay, that we all loved her, that we were going to take care of the kids. She didn’t have to worry about that,” said Stephanie Lacayo, Nicole’s sister.
Their grandmother will now be done raising her child’s children knowing that the daughter she adored inspired the Christmas spirit in so many.
To learn more about the local cancer clinical trials:
RELATED: Slidell Mom With Months To Live Couldn’t Afford To Fight ‘Highly Treatable’ Cancer
RELATED: Louisiana Cancer Research to Provide Clinical Trials in the State