Meet the "Get To" Giveaway Finalists

Congratulations to our 2 finalists. To read their stories, scroll through this page, or simple click the links below:

click to read Lesley's story

click to read Jennifer's story

Lesley's Story

Just after midnight on January 1, 2010. We just watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV. There would be no celebratory toasts or kisses, only discussion about whether or not to head to the ER.

We were “down the shore” with my husband’s family for the night. We met them and our one year old daughter Elizabeth there after work and didn’t get there until almost 10 o’clock. Shortly after arriving, Jay complained of pain that felt similar to when he had a kidney stone seven years prior. It got worse and worse until finally, he started throwing up from the pain. It was just after midnight that we decided we had no choice but to take action and seek medical attention. When we got to the ER the expected drunks were literally rolling in on stretchers.  After a few hours Jay was feeling better and we headed back to the house.

This should’ve been a signal to all of us that 2010 was going to be a roller coaster of a year.

In the weeks that followed, Jay wound up at two other local emergency rooms and a urologist for his painful kidney stone. Eventually, the stone seemed to have passed, but the medical bills and collection threats continue to come in the mail to this day.

A few months into the year, my mom began to experience worrisome bleeding that led to her being brought to the ER by ambulance from her gastroenterologist office. She wound up needing seven blood transfusions and emergency life-saving surgery to remove a section of colon during her time at the hospital. It was frightening for all of us.

In June, I was let go from my job. I had no idea what we were going to do. We already were struggling and couldn’t imagine getting by on unemployment alone. Within a month I interviewed for and was offered a job that sounded absolutely perfect for me. While I wouldn't be making quite as much as my old job, I would be doing something that meant a great deal to me. This was definitely a welcome highpoint of my year.

One month into my new job, my parents paid me a visit at work. I was excited to see them but they weren’t there to say hello, they were there to ask me to take off work the next day. My dad was to have a prostate biopsy. The look of fear in his face was like a dagger in my heart but I didn’t let him see that. When they left, the tears exploded out of me and I turned to my new co-workers who gave me hugs and words of comfort.

It turned out that my dad did have prostate cancer – stage 1. We are so grateful that the radiation treatments he’s currently undergoing should do the trick. He was lucky. We were lucky.

This summer, our five year interest only mortgage was up and we needed to refinance. We thought this would really help our money problems. We were wrong. The closing actually took place at Jay’s family’s beach house down the shore. We were there for a two-day “getaway” with Elizabeth. When we went to sign the papers we saw our new monthly payment would be almost $500 more a month. I was a basket case. What were we going to do? We had no choice but to sign or we’d be foreclosed upon. We’ve cut down on cable channels, groceries, and fun things but each month is still a struggle.

All throughout the year, Jay was experiencing achy arms and hands, tingling in two of his fingers and at times, shockwaves down his arms. He couldn’t even wear his wedding band anymore. I made him an appointment at an orthopedist and right away he asked Jay if he had been in a diving accident. He had degenerative discs and spurs not often seen in an otherwise healthy 33 year old. He had an MRI done and after reading them, suggested he see a neurosurgeon.

He sent us to one of the best in the country and he asked the same thing, “Have you ever been in a diving accident?” Jay had two discs in his neck bulging into and squeezing his spinal cord – the reason for the all the pain and discomfort he was feeling.

On December 3, the day after my birthday we went to Columbia for his surgery to fuse 3 vertebrae together. They used bone from his hip to replace the discs in between – a very painful procedure. I waited with his parents for the surgery to be over and to see him. It was a success. I slept over that night on a chair in his room. Jay is now home wearing his heavy duty collar faithfully. It’s been rough not having his help around the house but we manage. I think it’s been harder for him to not pick up his daughter for at least a month.

The day before my birthday, I was driving to work when a car in front of me was stopped to make a left turn into a gas station. While I was sitting there, itchin’ for them to get out of my way, I was rear-ended. I felt a huge bang and myself and the car were propelled forward. The woman that hit me was frantic and her car totaled.  The back of my car was mangled and undriveable and in a few hours, my back and neck began to hurt. The chiropractor called it a “whiplash situation.”  I’ve been driving a rental car and seeing a chiropractor three times a week since.

This accident was technically my third of the year. Earlier in the year, with Elizabeth in the car, I got bumped from behind but luckily it was more of a tap – the woman that hit me however,  left the scene with a crunched hood. In October, I was driving my mom’s car to work in the pouring rain and got in a minor fender bender as I was turning onto a busy road.

This year has been truly, one thing after another. We are hopeful that 2011 brings better things. One thing we already know will be good is that Jay’s sister in expecting her first baby in January.

Despite all that’s seemingly gone wrong this year, I’ve been able to see the positives:

1.      Jay’s kidney stone did not require surgery and did not lead to us discovering something more serious going on.

2.      My mother survived. The doctors told her it was a close call and that if they didn’t operate right away like she did, she never would have made it. She was bleeding out. I am thankful for the blood donors that made her transfusions possible. I have been inspired and given blood twice so far this year.

3.      I found a job when so many are desperately seeking one. Not just any job, a job working at a non-profit organization that is focused on the environment. A cause that is close to my heart.

4.      My father will be okay. Although he has the dreaded ‘C’ word, his prognosis is excellent and the treatment is nowhere near as bad as it could’ve been.

5.      Cars are just cars and I, nor Elizabeth, or anyone else was seriously injured.

6.      Jay is fixed! Once the collar comes off, he can go back to a normal life and one without pain. We are fortunate that he had such a great surgeon and was operated on at one of the best hospitals in the world.

Thank you so much for your consideration. To ’get to’ take a break from it all would be most welcome and hopefully start 2011 on the right foot!

Jennifer's Story