I have a close friend, we’ve been friends for over 20 years. Her husband was army. He was at the burn pits in Iraq. He came home and suddenly had a super rare and aggressive cancer. There was a huge delay of diagnosis because his doctor at the VA was an idiot and kept saying it was “just allergies” until well after the cancer was literally pushing D’s eyeball out of its socket (not like falling out, but pushing out substantially) and disfiguring his entire face. He served several tours and came back with some pretty serious ptsd. When they found the cancer they made him retire because there’s nothing they can do about it. The oncologist is confident that the cancer was a result of the burn pits, because of the substances they were actually burning. But there is no proof. The prognosis on this particular type of cancer is an 80% survival rate at the 5 year mark. It has been 4. I don’t think he’s going to make it to 5.
This friend recently moved to within 5 minutes of my home. I am so grateful to be in her life, and close enough to actually help. But my heart just aches. They don’t have anything. Because of his ptsd and the cancer treatments (they actually removed pieces of his brain and radiation-ed other parts) he forgot to transfer his active duty life insurance over. The time limit is long past and there’s nothing she can do about it now. He has lost a lot of memory ability, and ability to understand things, and just all the stuff that goes with part of your brain being taken away because of tumors. At the time, they didn’t know how bad his brain was functioning so she thought he was doing it and didn’t check. They have 5 kids, 2 have special needs. She’s been a stay at home mom for 20 years. No degree. Little to no family support. And since the army is denying the cancer came from the burn pits, they will get almost nothing when he passes. I don’t even know if she’ll continue to receive his “paycheck” or whatever it’s called.
I want to help so badly but I just don’t know where to start. She came over today and just sobbed on my couch for a few hours. They just got the most recent CT, MRI, and biopsy results back… and it’s really bad news. Bad enough that they might be just cancelling the PET scan. He’s in constant pain and is barely functioning. She’s in no state to fight the army, and she’s scared of getting in with the wrong lawyers or whatever. Some doctors at the VA have encouraged her strongly to check into some aspects of tort law (??? no idea what that is, not sure if that’s how it’s spelled). But she doesn’t know where to start. And I don’t know anything about it at all.
I do have some friends at the VA here and I’ve talked to them, and they are going to get me the name and phone number of who they feel would be the best advocate for her. But I’m just wishing I could do so much more. I’m actually losing sleep over it. She’s like a sister, except way better because my family is crazy. She’s like a sister, how I imagine a sister “should” be like. She’s moving to get Power of Attorney because his memory and ability to think and understand are severely compromised. Oh ya’ll… I could just go on and on. I just wish I could take this away for her. But I do want to help. Any extra prayers you have to offer, please, they could use them.