HAMLET — When Becky Singletary underwent a back surgery last October, doctors discovered she had lung cancer. The 56-year-old former mail carrier said she was floored.
“They called in a pulmonary doctor for a consult because they found a lump in my chest,” she said. “I had an embolism — but I also had a spot on my lung, which was cancer. Because of the pulmonary embolism, I had to take Xarelto, then my primary care doctor put me on Eliquis, so I wouldn’t have blood clots.”
Singletary said her condition deteriorated from there.
“One morning in May, I was laying in bed and I started coughing up blood, I didn’t know why,” she recalled. “I didn’t go to the hospital that day. I went the next day, because I thought maybe it was something that would heal up on its own or take care of itself. I got to Richmond Memorial and they told me I had a mass on my lung.
“They took me by ambulance to Moore Regional because they said I could be subject to a massive hemorrhage at any time because of where the tumor was at and it was already bleeding,” she continued. “I stayed in the hospital for two weeks that time.”
After rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Singletary said she was depleted.
“The doctor told me I was too weak to continue that any longer, and the tumor was shrinking,” she said. “This was the first of August. He said that was the best news that I could hope for at this point, but he also told me I had a 25 percent chance of living for five years.”
Jim Grant, a friend who said he is doing all he can to assist Singletary, said the two share a past.
“We used to date, and when I found out that she was sick, my dad and I have been trying to help her financially,” he said. “I’ve got all of her bills right here, and it’s somewhere around $12,500 after Medicare. I’ve been trying to set up some fundraisers, talking to church people.”
Singletary’s daughter, Jessica DuCasse, has been busy scouring the Internet for resources.
“I’ve been applying for grants,” DuCasse said.
“I haven’t been able to have a face to face with anyone at the church yet,” Grant said. “I’m supposed to meet with them on Sunday.”
Grant said he doesn’t know who to turn to for help, but hopes that someone in the community — or some group — might be willing to hold a benefit event for his friend.
“I don’t want anybody’s pitty, though,” Singletary said. “I don’t know how to say what I want to say.”
“We’re just trying to help her with her everyday financial living,” Grant said. “And we’re trying to get her into Lenox Station on Caroline Street.”
“This tumor, for some reason, won’t let my body hold sodium,” Singletary said. “And I’ve been in the hospital three times since May because of that. It causes my heart rate and blood pressure to drop. I just got some sodium tablets this morning, so I’m hoping it will help with that.”
Singletary said not knowing from one day to the next what she will feel like is difficult.
“I don’t have any energy at all. I don’t have any appetite,” she explained.
“The doctor prescribed Marinol, which is like a medical marijuana,” Grant said. “None of them would cover that medication. The insurance wouldn’t cover it.”
“I didn’t even know they could prescribe it,” Singletary said. “But my doctor wrote me a prescription for it. But they wouldn’t fill it for me at the drug store.”
“It costs about $200 for a 30-day supply without insurance,” Grant explained. “I was talking to another cancer patient who had it, and he said it helped and that he wanted to eat all the time. That’s what he told me.”
Singletary used to read, but said that after a stroke in 2009 she found herself having to read the same chapter over and over again, and could not remember what she had just read. So she stopped reading.
“It took all the joy out of it for me,” she said.
To help plan and organize a fundraiser event for Singletary, call 910-205-2988 or 910-995-7927.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.