“All of a sudden they showed up with gifts and things for my daughter, and it literally made my Christmas.” That’s how Vince, a member of IATSE Local 80 for 28 years, describes the gifts he and daughter received in December from the Angels, a volunteer donation group arranged by MPTF’s Palliative Care team. Here are the stories of three recipients we were overjoyed with special surprises for the holiday season.
When he was blindsided with a cancer diagnosis, Vince says, “I was devastated and blown out of the water, with no idea what to do… Having been a provider all my life, I never really thought to ask, I never knew how to ask. It’s interesting how the stresses in life really affect you physically. It was a learning curve.” Now with a panel of people listening, discussing, and addressing his many needs, he’s finding ways to rebuild both physically and mentally. “I was I was devastated financially,” he explains. “I didn’t know how I was going to even eat. Each one [on the team] did something so well, something as simple as being referred to a nutritionist who was so awesomely intuitive.” During this process, Vince’s daughter who had been living in New York moved in with him when her mother faced issues of her own. “I had to turn my focus to her,” Vince says. “It was it was a wonderful blessing because it was so huge to bond with my daughter, but an astronomical burden in the middle of it that I wasn’t prepared for it all.” Through this the Palliative Care team navigated him through insurance issues, financial aid, and so much more. “As a result of his experience, he says, “It really opened my eyes to a whole new world, and I’m in a position now to start looking at life like, ‘Oh, how do I just help people?’”
Diagnosed with breast cancer eight months into her first pregnancy, Mirna, a Local 706 member, had early induced childbirth so she could start treatment right away. Between managing cancer her therapy and raising her new infant, she found out about MPTF through her union when she was planning to go on medical leave. Through our social services team she got in touch with our Palliative Care team whose resources and regular Zoom meetings have helped navigate her needs. “I wasn’t able to pick up my baby because I couldn’t pick up or lift or push more than five pounds,” she says as an example, “and my baby is 17 pounds. So they actually sent me someone to help me with the baby.” For Christmas she and her family got an Angels visit complete with gifts, diapers, and supplies, plus a holiday meal from our Volunteer department.
Ryan, a sound veteran in television for 27 years and a Local 695 member, knew about MPTF and even worked on our 95th anniversary celebration five years ago. With ongoing health issues, he turned to our Palliative Care team and regular had Zoom calls with them including Anne Front and Rabbi Arthur Rosenberg. “These last two years, going through all of the medical stuff that I’m going through and currently waiting to go on permanent disability, they’ve been integral,” he says. “Honestly they’ve saved my life on more than one occasion,” including a year ago when they urged him to go to a hospital after recognizing he’d had a heart attack. “It was a week after my 40th birthday, and I just didn’t see how it was possible that I was having a massive cardiac event.” Following a double bypass last August, he’s been working closely with the MPTF team on everything from disability navigations through insurance and financial aid. For the holidays, he and his son got to enjoy a delivery of gifts to open up on Christmas morning together. “They’re like angels,” he says now of his care team. “They’re really the biggest blessing I have in my life right now.”