May 292013

Sheila RiceSheila Rice began to feel pain in her left hand. A single Mom and working fulltime, Sheila initially dismissed the discomfort.  Soon, however, she knew in her heart that something was wrong. “At that time, I was working for a catering company at Duke Energy,” recalled Sheila.

After a misdiagnosis of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, Sheila Rice received life altering news. “I remember ending up in the emergency room again with so much pain” said Sheila. She learned she had an advanced form of breast cancer, brachial plexopathy.  It has led to intractable pain and loss of function in her right arm.

Not able to go back to work, Sheila applied for Social Security disability, but her claim was denied. Sheila called United Way’s 2-1-1 help line and the referral specialist suggested she contact Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. The caseworkers at Legal services helped Sheila apply for Medicaid and helped her appeal the denial of her Social Security disability claim.  “They were a big help for me. I had to figure out how I was going to live with no income, no job and no insurance.”

As she waited for coverage under Medicaid, she had to figure out a way to get treatment for her chemotherapy, which she needed right away. Presbyterian Hospital stepped in and began her treatment, even though she did not yet have insurance.  Sheila turned to another United Way agency, MedAssist, which supplied the prescriptions she needed. She began her chemotherapy treatments at Presbyterian Hospital. After the chemotherapy, Sheila completed radiation treatments through the Carolinas HealthCare System. “I remember being treated at both Presbyterian Hospital and Carolinas HealthCare. The people at both hospitals were great and the Susan G. Koman Foundation sent me flowers and gave me a manicure,” said Sheila.

Sheila was finally approved for disability benefits and Medicaid. She now visits her oncologist once a month.  Sheila expressed her gratitude for the help she received at Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont and MedAssist.  “Legal Services stayed on my case until it was completed. Everyone was compassionate and I thank God for them.”

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