Lisa Doran had just given birth prematurely to twins, a boy and girl, when she received more life-changing news: Her 4-year-old son, Tom, had late-stage leukemia.
This was in 1999, several years before Doran — an Essex, MA, retail associate — began her Postal Service career. In addition to being concerned about her son’s diagnosis, she worried about the mounting medical bills.
Doran and her husband, a self-employed contractor, relied on help from family and friends — and the couple even sold their home to qualify for state health insurance — but they also received assistance from a host of charities.
Several of these organizations are part of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the annual charity drive that allows federal workers to contribute to more than 7,000 groups.
“The CFC charities that reached out to my family were amazing,” Doran said.
For example, the Jimmy Fund, a Massachusetts-based organization, provided the Dorans with free meals and paid their expenses to see specialists.
During Tom’s treatment, which included two bone marrow transplants, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society helped pay the costs of medications that weren’t covered by insurance, while the Make-A-Wish Foundation provided him with a personal computer and accessories to help with his homeschooling.
Other groups helped with gas money, rent, school supplies and more.
Today, Tom is 24 and in his fourth remission. He recently graduated from college and plans to pursue a master’s degree and work with chronically ill children.
Doran, in the meantime, has become a CFC volunteer. She has helped increase contributions at the Essex Post Office and encourages her co-workers to participate in the current drive, which is underway through Jan. 12.
Although it can be hard to relive her family’s experiences, Doran feels it’s important to share the story.
“What happened to my family can happen to anybody,” she said.