Neediest Families: Tulsa woman's health is keeping family busy
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
12/18/12 at 7:46 AM
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A few months ago, Loretta Stephens started having trouble keeping food down. She was running a temperature and was having stomach problems, as well.
She was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, and her life hasn't been the same since.
She is no longer able to work at churches, or even go to church regularly. She can't do normal chores around the house and sometimes even has trouble feeding herself.
Stephens relies on help from two of her children who live with her, 17-year-old Jennifer Stephens and 14-year-old David Stephens Jr.
She's undergoing chemotherapy, which is also hard on her, she said.
"It drags me down where I sleep quite a bit," she said.
When Stephens was in the hospital, she was immediately taken to surgery and later developed pneumonia and ended up staying for about three weeks.
Doctors said she'd had the cancer for about a year.
She has Medicaid but still has to make some co-payments.
"It's just one thing right after another," she said.
Stephens' fiancee has a job, but it keeps him away from home for long periods of time.
They met three years ago on Valentine's Day and have been together ever since. They talk about getting married, but it's not really possible right now.
Stephens receives disability payments and some child support, but she's not earning the income she had from working for churches anymore and is having trouble paying for rent, food and doctor's visits.
The family used to decorate for Christmas and she would get gifts for the children, but she can't do that physically now and can't afford it anyway.
Stephens has three other children and a few grandchildren that help keep her going.
"I want to stay around for them," she said.
Her son, holding her hand, says he can't imagine life without her.
Stephens tries to take it one day at a time, she said.
"I'm looking forward to better days to come and am trying to keep a positive attitude with this," she said.
About the Neediest Families Fund Drive
The Neediest Families Fund Drive was established in 1928 to provide assistance to families in need during the holidays and the coming year.
This year's goal is to raise $300,000 by Christmas Eve. Last year's goal was exceeded; $334,888 was raised.
Each Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday through the holiday season, the Tulsa World will spotlight families chosen by The Salvation Army to receive help through this year's fund.
None of the money raised is used for administrative costs.
Cash is not given directly to the families. They are given vouchers for specific needs.
To help families such as the one featured today, send a check or money order to the Neediest Families Fund Drive, in care of the Tulsa World, P.O. Box 1770, Tulsa, OK 74102.
Donations are tax-deductible, and donors can be anonymous.
Original Print Headline: Woman's health is keeping family busy
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378
Loretta Stephens (left) is shown with two of her children, Jennifer and David Stephens. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World