Three Times Stronger
How your support helped this mom fight cancer with confidence
As she looks forward to another day with her kids, Natalie Rangel of Sycamore, Illinois reflects on everything good in her life.
“My husband, family, friends – but mostly, the gift of still being here with them.”
Natalie’s 2008 cancer diagnosis came as a cold shock, even after months of worry, tests and conflicting opinions.
“A lymph node in my groin went from tender to blotchy to black,” she recalls. On her youngest son’s first birthday, unable to walk, she asked her mother to take her to the emergency room.
A team of specialists finally pinpointed the cause – a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Chemotherapy began within days.
Fight and fight again
Doctors gave Natalie an 85% chance of beating her cancer, but a year later it returned.
Weighing options laid out by her doctor, Natalie chose to receive care at Loyola University Medical Center, about 2 hours from home. “First came radiation, then chemo, then a transplant of my own cells to fight the cancer.”
After a 2-week hotel stay to protect against infection, Natalie returned home. Just months later, tests revealed the need for her to fight again.
Away from home – but never alone
Her sister Vanessa provided bone marrow cells for a new transplant, one that would confine her to a hotel room for 100 days.
“That’s when I found the American Cancer Society and Colleen Savory,” Natalie says.
Colleen, a Society patient services specialist, took a broad look at Natalie’s personal and family needs with special focus on Madeline, 11, Matthew, 7 and Ryan, 5.
First she negotiated reduced hotel rates for Natalie’s stay in Hillside, close to Loyola but near local highways to make weekend visits from her husband, Ramon, and the kids easier. Natalie’s mom would stay with her to provide daily support.
Looking out for the kids
Next, Colleen reached out to the children’s school. “She wanted the principal and staff to know our situation, and arranged for the teachers to phone me often so I could follow the kids’ progress,” Natalie explains.
But Colleen’s support didn’t end there. “She called every few days just to check in,” Natalie recalls with emotion in her voice. “Through it all, I felt she was standing right by my side.”
Natalie now looks forward to helping others. “If I can make even one person with cancer feel stronger, I’ll be passing along the care that helped me so much."
HOW YOU HELPED NATALIE’S FAMILY – and so many more
1,000 NIGHTS of free or low-cost lodging were provided for Illinois patients who received treatment far from home in 2012.
35,000 NEWLY DIAGNOSED patients and caregivers statewide received free resources from us over the last 12 months, thanks to your support.
FOR FREE RESOURCES to help you or someone you know with cancer, call 800.227.2345 or visit IllinoisCancerHelp.org. We’re here for you 24/7.