Women fight to get benefits for breast cancer survivors rushed
PORTLAND, Ore. - Jeannie Azzopardi fought one battle to save her life and now the breast cancer survivor is fighting a second to save her home.
Jeannie and her daughter, Jesse, are taking their fight to elected officials through a petition. They want them to listen and make a change, because Jesse feels like her mom can't be the only breast cancer survivor fighting this battle.
Jeannie was denied disability benefits and, even though they're trying to appeal, they know time is running out.
In October 2010, Jeannie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy, two emergency surgeries and months of chemotherapy.
"Luckily, it was caught early, because I went right away for a mammogram," she said from her Ashland home through Skype.
Now three years later and cancer free, she is still recovering from chemotherapy and painful shoulder surgery. She can only lift her arm just above her head.
Jeannie hasn't been able to work full time, and her application for disability benefits was denied.
"According to Social Security, I was perfectly capable of working. They told me, I should adjust."
Now she's received a letter, saying her home is heading into foreclosure.
"I can't even talk about it, it's just awful," her daughter Jessie said at her home in Northwest Portland.
She's running out of options to help.
"My husband and I went through our savings to try and help her to keep her in the house, and it's not working," she said.
She wrote 250 letters, even to Rep. Peter DeFazio, and only got a few responses: All saying they couldn't help.
Now Jesse's created an online petition, gathering signatures, not just for her mom but other survivors.
"I'm asking them to get the Social Security disability benefits to these cancer patients in a timely manner - three years waiting time is ridiculous," she said.
Jesse has more than 130 signatures right now. She's gathering them until the end of February. Then she plans on taking them to a list of local representatives and demanding change.