Kim’s Story

by | Sep 24, 2020 | Stories of Transformation

I joined the Love INC program on the heels of significant clinical depression. The episode was triggered when a pipe burst and flooded my condo, leaving me at the mercy of a very slow and unresponsive association.

It didn’t take much to fall behind financially as I had been living paycheck to paycheck for most of the past 10 years.

This in itself created a great source of pain, shame and dissatisfaction in my life.

Before this struggle, with my husband’s income we earned a good living. We had enough to pay the bills, complete repairs, and allow me time off for my maternity leave to welcome my son into the world.

During this time, I felt that I had it all.

Little did I know, my life was going to be flipped upside down.

At my one-year postpartum visit, my Doctor found a lump in my breast, which turned out to be an invasive and particularly nasty form of breast cancer.

I had just returned from maternity leave a few months prior and while in the diagnostic phase of the cancer, I was burning through POF time off as fast as I was earning it.

During this time, my husband’s very lucrative work on the Van Andel institute ended and the recession was beginning.

A month later I had bilateral mastectomies and wound up with a hospital acquired infection and complications.

When I was finally discharged, I was unable to work and told that I couldn’t hold my 1 year old son.

By the time I was well enough to meet my oncologist, he informed me that I would need a minimum of 6 months of chemotherapy and I likely would lack the immune system to return to work during this time. I did try to return to work, but within one week and halfway through chemo I ended up with a nasty infection and pneumonia.

Being that it was a medical facility with historically poor ventilation, I should have took my oncologist’s advice and stayed home.

The next 4 months was the hardest season in my life, but I persevered in spite of mounting debt and the weakness I felt throughout my entire body.

I was just getting back to earning full paychecks when my son was showing the obvious signs of the Autism that he would be later diagnosed with.

During this season, my husband was my rock and my son’s sole caregiver, especially when it came to lifting and bathing him.

My husband was such a spur of strength to me; however, as his work had dried up he was feeling like an inadequate husband and provider.

Just after my sons 2nd birthday my husband made a life changing decision that ended up taking his life.

His loss was the cause of my PTSD and Major Depression I have suffered with since. It proved to be far more formidable than the cancer ever was.

This ripple effect caused by pain began in 2011, and since then I have had around five major surgeries and a couple of minor ones, due to the repercussions.

I have navigated my son’s Autism diagnosis alone but through this struggle, I found a place of peace.

When I joined Love INC’s Life Skills program, it was the first time since my husband died that I felt like someone wanted to do more than make me feel like a charity case.

Life Skills was more than someone giving me a couple hundred bucks, expecting that to solve my problem. Those handouts ended up creating more shame and depression. Life Skills gave me the hope and relationships I desired.

Once I reached the mentor phase of Life Skills I was able to work with my mentor Karla who was patient, listened and genuinely cared. I also felt loved by Love INC’s relational ministry directors, Mary and Melissa.

I began to feel supported in a way I had not felt since my husband died.

I enjoyed coming to class each week and meeting with Karla, making progress and finally paying off debt I had carried since my story began. I felt empowered and in control of my situation after such a long time. This experience was truly healing and life changing.

Today I have an amazing friend in Karla who even helped me paint my living room. I have paid off over $14,000 of debt and the shame around my finances has been replaced with a deep sense of pride.

I have even managed to put aside some money for an upcoming surgery and PT rehab my son is having next month. The $600 expense it will cost me doesn’t seem so far out of reach. I am grateful I can focus on my son’s healing, rather than worry about financial hardship.

My next goal is to save for a trip to Disney World. Something I have always dreamed of, but never thought it would be possible.

Since grade school I had a relationship with God, but I have to say, my faith has really been strengthened since attending the Life Skills program. Financial hardship has a way of straining our relationship with God, our family and our friends; It separates us from the things we hold most dear.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for truly improving the quality of my life and making me feel in control again.

You are making a difference in this community.