Our Stories: A health crisis, a burden lifted

Carrie Brennan Darlene

Carrie Brennan was cooking a kettle of stew when something strange happened. She turned just wrong and felt a searing pain in her neck. A visit to the doctor revealed that she’d broken it. Stranger still, the 54-year-old mother of four had recently been treated for unexplained fractures in her vertebrae.

After several tests, doctors at Providence Newberg Medical Center discovered the cause of her mysterious ailment: Carrie had advanced multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer.

The news was grimmer than anyone could know. Months earlier, Carrie had lost her job at a helicopter charter company. She’d also lost her health insurance, then her housing. Staying with her grown son, she was faced with medical bills that were almost as daunting as the disease itself.

“I was thinking, I sure hope this doesn’t come back and bite my kids,” she says, her voice breaking. “They were already buying my prescriptions for me.”

Help came in the form of Darleen Finley, a Providence financial counselor who delivered the first good news that Carrie had heard in weeks. She would help Carrie through the complicated process of applying for federal disability benefits. Better still, the hospital would cover 100 percent of Carrie’s medical expenses while she waited for those benefits.

“I was speechless ,” Carrie says. “She made me feel like I didn’t have to worry.”

Today, Carrie is undergoing chemotherapy and awaiting the birth of her fourth grandchild. Her cancer battle continues, but at least one burden has been lifted.

“At Providence, I have never felt like whoever was taking care of me didn’t care,” she says. “They absolutely care.”