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With the intensive cancer treatments behind her and no dark financial cloud hanging over her head, Jenni Davis feels like she can finally move forward again. Photo provided by Doug Marrin.

Facing the dual challenges of a cancer diagnosis and mounting medical bills, Jenni Davis, a Dexter High School special education consultant and single mother, is raising awareness about the financial struggles accompanying such a severe health issue and the crucial support available through organizations like New Day.

“All of a sudden, you’ve got cancer, and you’re in trouble financially through no fault of your own,” says Jenni. “It’s just really good to know that there are people out there who know that and dedicate their lives to making sure that people like me don’t end up in financial ruin.”

In August 2020, amidst the pandemic, Jenni moved back to the U.S. from the United Kingdom with her two sons, aged 14 and 11. Settling in with a new job and then a few months later, in December, with a new home and a new puppy for Christmas, their lives took a sharp turn when Jenni was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer a few days later.

“My mom had breast cancer, and so I think I probably always knew that I was going to end up with it too,” says Jenni. “I was kind of prepared for it because I had thought about it over the years. But in truth, the first thing that I thought about when they came into diagnosis was that I couldn’t afford it.” The irony of having just moved from a country with national healthcare to facing substantial medical expenses in the U.S. was not lost on her.

“I’ve got two boys that have just started playing hockey, and finances are finely balanced,” she explains. Her high deductible health plan, chosen for its low monthly payments, became a source of stress as she faced a $6,500 deductible.

Faced with the reality of her illness, Jenni’s concerns were less about the disease and more about how to afford the treatment. “I didn’t have time to worry about cancer,” she says, highlighting the financial burden overshadowing her health concerns. “I was really worried about supporting the boys and not being able to work while in treatment.”

“It was a scary few months because then I found out that the cancer had metastasized, and I was going to need chemo,” she adds.

Jenni Davis at the height of her intensive treatment with her two sons and pup. Photo courtesy of New Day.

To put it another way, she explains, “For me, the disease wasn’t the pressing issue. Untreated cancer kills, but with treatment, there is a high probability of survival. I had to figure out how to afford it.”

The turning point came when a hospital social worker introduced Jenni to New Day, a Rochester Hills based charity providing financial support to cancer patients. According to New Day, statistics show that if a cancer patient is worried about finances, their risk of dying is roughly double. Additionally, 88.4 percent of New Day families surveyed said that working with New Day helped them maintain medical compliance during treatment rather than dropping out of treatment plans due to the high cost.

“Sometimes it makes me cry with anger when people tell me I just need to ‘relax’ and ‘look after myself’ because I know that my first priority is actually looking after my children – and ensuring they are fed and sheltered,” Davis wrote in her letter to New Day. “Only other single moms understand the driving fear of something going wrong and making it impossible to do whatever it is that our children need. That fear motivates me to get up and go to work when the chemo is telling me I should be recovering. Financial support from New Day Foundation would provide me with a safety net that means that I can breathe a bit easier.”

New Day’s assistance was pivotal, covering the family’s mortgage for two months, assisting with utility bills, and providing grocery support. “It was like this massive weight off my shoulders,” Jenni states. This support allowed her to focus on her recovery and continue caring for her sons.

Jenni’s involvement with New Day extended beyond receiving aid. She has become a spokesperson for the charity and has participated in events, like dropping the puck at an upcoming USA Hockey Team game.

Today, Jenni has completed her intensive treatments and is on maintenance medication. “I feel like I can move on now,” she says.

“Cancer is something that can happen to anyone, and most people don’t have a financial reserve to fall back on,” Jenni adds.

Jenni and her family will perform the ceremonial puck drop at the upcoming hockey fundraiser to benefit the New Day Foundation on Friday, January 26, at USA Arena in Plymouth. Learn more about New Day at https://www.foundationforfamilies.org/

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