BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – A cancer diagnosis is hard enough on its own without the financial challenges and fear of the unknown.
Michelle Apple is a woman who was inspired by her own cancer battle to help others and advocate for improved screenings.
Perhaps you’ve seen the signs or heard the name Apple Breast Cancer Warrior Foundation. The non-profit raises money, helping people diagnosed with cancer.
Founder Michelle Apple is a survivor herself, diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2018.
“November will be a year. We have put $30,000 back in the community for medical bills, deductibles, travel expenses,” Apple said.
After Apple found that lump, she went for testing and thought she was OK.
“They did check it out, they did testing and all the standards you should do and unfortunately, it got missed because it was the size of a fingernail, and it was under the armpit instead of the breast,” Apple said.
She ended up with shingles in 2018, which helped the cancer grow, but she continued ignoring what she felt, thinking she was in the clear after the checkup.
“By doing that, you know, when you fast-forward three years, I ended up being Stage 3. Twenty-three lymph nodes were cancerous and a 50% recurrence rate,” Apple said.
Apple advocates for increased use of 3-D imaging and ultrasounds. She says it would have made her battle far less invasive.
“With invasive lobular, what we call dense breast tissue, it is sometimes harder to detect, and I was one of those situations. It was harder to detect, but I did have a lump so with an ultrasound, a simple ultrasound, you would have seen a solid mass and then they probably would have done a biopsy,” Apple said.
Today, she is cancer-free. That battle came with a large price-tag.
“My husband and I paid $15,000 out of pocket in deductibles and thank goodness we had savings because it drained our savings. Fortunately, we had it. Many do not,” Apple said.
Having the means to meet those out-of-pocket costs kept Apple’s stress level down. She says that is an important part of battling the disease.
“Stress and cancer feed off of each other. It’s hard, and in my case, I had my savings but imagine someone who doesn’t?” Apple said.
That is the basis for the foundation, funding breast cancer treatments and advocating for better screenings. The hope is that her advocacy leads to earlier detection and her fundraising helps eliminate some of the stress during one of the most stressful times.
“As you go through this, support is everything. From friends to family to community, everybody coming together. It helps your journey and it makes it better,” Apples said. “Through this foundation and meeting all of the amazing survivors and fighters that I’ve met and the women we have lost, it inspires me to want to do more to help others.”
If you want to get in touch with Michelle Apple, you can reach her at email@example.com.