Start Your Engines!

Two children buckle into the back seat of a small plane. One last check – everything’s safe. Excited grins cross their faces. The propeller roars to life, spinning faster and faster. The plane speeds down the runway… and takes off! Cheers come from the back seat. These children are flying with Mercy Medical Angels’ volunteer pilot program, and it’s one special mission. They’re going to Victory Junction.

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Chronic Pain Struggles

In 2012, Jason contracted a spinal cord injury. He had to go from working a regular job to part-time. Doctors said he would suffer chronic pain for the rest of his life. The only treatment plan available in the local area involved the use of painkillers.

Cleveland Clinic offered a chronic pain rehabilitation program. It lasted for a month, without a hospital stay. The aim of this program was to help people with chronic pain live a fulfilling life. Participants learned healthier ways to deal with their pain, such as changes in diet and regular exercise. Once home, they would put the lessons into their lives.

There was only one problem: a round trip for two people cost more than $600. The program required family members to get involved, which would add to the travel expenses. This didn’t count food and lodging. It was too much for Jason and his family to keep up with.

Mercy Medical Angels to the Rescue

Jason’s mother, Barbara, was at Pembroke Mall. While there, she saw a kiosk. Robb Alpaugh, the President and CEO of Mercy Medical Angels, was manning the booth. Barbara went up to him and started asking if he could help. His answers gave Barbara the reassurance she needed: “Absolutely” and “No problem.”

Jason’s first trip was scheduled for May. He was supposed to fly with Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, out of Signature Flight Support. However, the weather was bad. The pilot said he couldn’t fly the mission, but he didn’t give up on Jason. He paid for the round-trip tickets himself. The weather for his September trip wasn’t much better. This pilot also went above and beyond: he drove Jason to the main airport and paid for the tickets.

“I’m so grateful to everyone,” said Jason. Barbara is equally grateful. She said that Mercy Medical Angels “probably saved his life.”

Free to Live

Since September 6, 2017, Jason is managing chronic pain on his own. He went to the gym for the first time in four years. Jason said of Mercy Medical Angels, “I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”

Barbara said that Mercy Medical Angels “made it possible. They were a critical component.”

Jason’s answer comes from the depths of his heart: “They gave me my life back!”

Not Like the Others

When you think of a fighter, what comes to mind? Some might think of hulking wrestlers or skilled martial artists. Others might think of those who serve in the military. Still others might think of activists. But sometimes a fighter isn’t who you’d expect. Instead of being physically formidable, they’re small. Instead of putting on a fearless face, they need reassurance. One of these unlikely fighters is Marsha.

Marsha seems pretty average when you speak with her on the phone. She loves animals, especially parrots. At her church, she’s a pianist – and can also play violin, harpsichord, keyboard, and twelve-bass accordion. She works for a private investigator from home, helping with background checks and finding information on cases. But when the small talk turns to deeper conversation, her story sounds like a real-life legend.

The Battle Begins

In 2008, one of Marsha’s parrots attacked her. The parrot mauled her face, and Marsha needed to go to the doctor. However, the malpractice laws in Florida made it difficult for her to get adequate treatment. Marsha’s normally easy-going tone turns irritated when she describes the problems. “Doctors have to have all these credentials. If they don’t, a patient can call the police.” She also mentions that malpractice insurance isn’t mandatory. This makes it difficult to file a lawsuit.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, her teeth started feeling unnaturally loose, like they were about to fall out. “I was bleeding for weeks,” Marsha explains. “Eating was nightmarish.” Not wanting to deal with another disaster in Florida, she looked for help in other states. “Trying to pay for airfare was a huge burden,” she continues. “I needed a helping hand.”

Alliance with Mercy Medical Angels

The “helping hand” came just in time. Around midnight, Marsha received a call from Mercy Medical Angels. They had been up all night finding transportation from Florida to New York and had to let her know.

“They’re miraculous,” Marsha says with relief in her voice. “It’s very calming to know the airfare is taken care of.” The next morning, Marsha flew out of the Sunshine State – and once in New York, found a different kind of sunshine.

Getting Help

First, Marsha needed to have the botched face operation corrected. Her dental problem was much more difficult to remedy. Marsha has dental anxiety, which is almost like PTSD. She also gets sensory overload from dental treatment, which only adds to her anxiety. Many dentists don’t understand what she’s going through, or rely on sedation in hopes she’ll sleep through it. The lack of understanding only makes it worse.

Luckily, the dentists Marsha found have a softer side. They don’t rush and they explain everything. Sometimes she needs to talk something out, and the dentists give emotional support. If the chair feels uncomfortable, pillows and blankets are provided. “Sometimes it’s like a spa,” Marsha says through a laugh.

When it came to fixing Marsha’s teeth, the dentists had to make special tools. Not only is she shorter than average, she also has a very small mouth. “What they had to do wasn’t in the textbook,” Marsha says. Textbook or no textbook, they managed to save most of her teeth.

Fighter at Heart

Aside from her dental anxiety, Marsha also has a number of other conditions. Some are physical – such as alopecia. Her hair might have fallen out, but she makes the best of it. She owns wigs in all the colors of the rainbow, and matches them to her outfits. It keeps a smile on her face – and makes others smile too. She states an often-overlooked point: “If you look better, you feel better.”

When asked how she deals with her challenges, Marsha’s answer is simple. However, the simplicity holds strength. “I take it as it comes. Every day is precious.”

Marsha is a fighter at heart, but even the best fighters need help. Her dentist, Dr. Michael Schamis, provides emotional support alongside treatment.

Mercy Medical Angels would like to take a moment to remind our supporters about being considerate of your 4th of July celebrations.

Not all wounds are visible, a veteran near you could have PTSD.

Has your heart ever started pounding in time with the fireworks?

 

A veteran with PTSD has!

 

Have you ever plugged your ears or looked away?

 

A veteran with PTSD has!

Regardless of how they react, how they feel is often the same, overwhelmed.

Mercy Medical Angels serves veterans through our Angel Wings for Veterans program. Like you, we care about those that have served our country and want to make sure we are all mindful during our celebrations.

How can you help?

You may plan to set off your fireworks on your own; this could be unsafe, but it may also cause a reaction for veterans with PTSD. Don’t pressure someone into attending and give your neighbors heads ups.

Our Angel Wings for Veterans program ensures that no veteran in need is denied medical care due to a lack of transportation. Because of our community partners, volunteers and donors, we provide transportation on the ground with gas cards, bus and train tickets and in the air through commercial airlines and volunteer pilot flights.

Everyday 22 veterans end their life.

Arthritis: Lifelong Struggle

Jeremy has had arthritis since he was six years old. At 25, he needed both his knees replaced. Just three years later, he needed a double hip replacement. Now, his wrists and elbows have deteriorated to the point of requiring surgery, “For the last thirty years, arthritis has destroyed my joints,” Jeremy said. “It’s very hard for me to do daily activities, let alone be a husband and father.”

Four orthopedic doctors were unable to help. Finally, he was referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. There was just one problem: traveling to Mayo Clinic.

Above and Beyond

Mercy Medical Angels provided Jeremy free flights to Minnesota and back. Better yet, his brother was able to accompany him. Jeremy found “two of the greatest surgeons” at Mayo Clinic. They were confident they could restore his quality of life. “That gives me hope,” said Jeremy.

In Jeremy’s words, Mercy Medical Angels went “above and beyond” to help with applying. “They treated me with compassion and truly cared about me even after my flight.”

When asked about what he would say to potential donors, Jeremy asked for people to give to Mercy Medical Angels today. “There are so many people like me who are desperate for help, but can’t afford to travel to a hospital that can help them. Every donation helps.”

Blessing

In one word, Jeremy describes Mercy Medical Angels as a “blessing.” It starts with transportation, but it doesn’t stop there. Thanks to the treatment he’s receiving, Jeremy’s life is getting better. He’s starting to spend more time with his family. He’s regaining mobility and ability.

Jeremy still has some challenges on the horizon. But he knows that arthritis won’t keep him down.

Jeremy arthritis patient and son
Jeremy with his son at the library. His quality of life is improving after treatment at Mayo Clinic.
Jeremy arthritis patient with son
Jeremy can stand tall for his son.

Neuroendocrine Cancer Strikes

Two years ago, William started having health issues. Doctors dismissed it. His wife, Terri, began to worry. “They kept saying he had food poisoning,” said Terri. However, she suspected it was more than food poisoning. Then, a blood test confirmed her worries: William had neuroendocrine cancer.

The cancer spread rapidly through William’s body. It attacked his pancreas. He needed a major surgery to remove it. After the operation, he had to stay in the hospital for a month.

“We save every penny just to keep a roof over our heads,” said Terri. The surgery and hospital stays were expensive, and the cancer wasn’t quitting. She had to find a better option to save William’s life.

Best Shot Is A Long Shot

Neuroendocrine cancer is extremely rare. Because of that, very few doctors can correctly diagnose and treat it. Dr. Liu is one of the top specialists in the country. Aside from treating the disease, he tries to spread awareness of it.

There was only one problem. Dr. Liu’s practice is in Denver, CO – over 1,700 miles away from William’s home. The round trip tickets would be too costly.

In His Corner

Mercy Medical Angels and the American Cancer Society teamed up to support William. Through a partnership with Delta Airlines, the American Cancer Society can help fund transportation for cancer patients. Mercy Medical Angels arranges the travel.

William was able to travel to Denver. His daughter accompanied him. “Mercy Medical Angels enabled us to get there,” said Terri, “which relieved our financial struggles.”

Back in the Fight

Dr. Liu compared the treatment options to “tools in a toolbox.” It requires much more caution than a construction job: “You have to use the right tools at the right time.” One tool is an injection. It has kept the cancer in check for a whole year. Another tool is a Gallium scan. It makes images that are more precise than an MRI, and can spot tumors that would normally go unnoticed.

The way neuroendocrine cancer develops is borderline unpredictable. “You really have to follow closely.” said Terri. Dr. Liu is doing just that. The treatment plan involves working with doctors whose practices aren’t so far away. This careful monitoring will ensure that William has the best shot at life.

Eyes on the Prize

William’s fight with neuroendocrine cancer is is far from over. “We’re confident and positive that we’re doing the right thing,” said Terri. Knowing a specialist is on their side “gives us hope.”

“William still has a lot of living to do.” said Terri. Mercy Medical Angels, the American Cancer Society, and Dr. Liu will make sure that happens. Fighting neuroendocrine cancer is hard, and the disease won’t pull any punches. But with a strong corner, William is ready to win the next rounds.

William stands with Dr, Liu, a specialist in treating neuroendocrine cancer
William stands with Dr, Liu, a specialist in treating neuroendocrine cancer.

Signature Flight Support in Norfolk stopped by to visit the office. They donated $7,500 to Mercy Medical Angels. Needless to say, we’re over the clouds. So what can we say to Signature Flight Support except… THANK YOU!

Signature Flight Support in Norfolk gave a very generous donation to Mercy Medical Angels!

Unexpected Crisis

“Our life was going along smoothly. We never thought that we would have a crisis come up that would turn our lives upside down.”

This was Joanne’s reaction when she found out that her son, Jonathan, had a serious illness. Jonathan’s illness required surgery. Very few doctors are qualified to perform the procedure he needed. The doctors that could best help him were in Florida – a long way from home.

Joanne couldn’t afford plane tickets. That meant she’d have to drive Jonathan to Florida. The drive would last 15 hours. Traveling such a long distance would be a strain on both of them. “Large medical and dental expenses, missing work and being away from our support system became a reality,” said Joanne.

Smooth Flight

As the date of Jonathan’s surgery came closer, the struggles were only getting worse. Joanne requested aid from Mercy Medical Angels. They stayed in contact all the way, relieving Joanne’s worries.

“I was kept informed during the entire process,” said Joanne. “I had no problems getting my questions answered in a timely manner.”

Mercy Medical Angels coordinated flights with Southwest. Joanne is grateful for the travel assistance: “I wanted to thank Southwest for being so generous with the airplane ticket.”

The return flight occurred shortly after the surgery. By that time, Jonathan’s mouth was wired shut. A commercial flight ensured he would make it home much more quickly. It also made it easier for Joanne to take care of him on the way back.

Life-Changing Support

Mercy Medical Angels and Southwest Airlines gave Jonathan the assistance he needed. Joanne is grateful. “Knowing that we had the support of Mercy Medical Angels and Southwest helped us get through the tough times.”

Sometimes an unexpected crisis, like Jonathan’s illness and surgery, turns a family’s life upside down. Mercy Medical Angels provides life-changing support. And with their help, even the worst problems in life can turn right side up.

Jonathan outside, taking it easy after surgery
Jonathan is enjoying the outdoors after surgery.

Cancer Patients’ Unknown Battle

Imagine this scenario. You or a loved one has cancer. A new, promising treatment is available. However, the best hospital to give this treatment is too far away. You have to fly hundreds or even thousands of miles. Long-distance travel will strain your budget. The battle just got more hostile. Worse, many don’t know about your critical need.

This is the reality for many individuals. They often turn to the American Cancer Society for help. When a cancer patient needs assistance, the American Cancer Society often refers them to Mercy Medical Angels. Mercy Medical Angels arranges free transportation. This way, patients can access the best care available.

Team Effort

Mercy Medical Angels provides free transportation to medical care for those who can’t afford the cost of long-distance travel. One way we accomplish our mission is through partnerships with commercial airlines. These airlines help the American Cancer Society through fundraising efforts, allowing for research and treatments.

Aside from the visible fundraising, there’s another life-saving partnership. As stated before, cancer patients don’t always have the means to access distant treatment. That’s where we come in. There’s a program where frequent flier miles donated through Delta go to the American Cancer Society. From there, the miles go to Mercy Medical Angels. The miles allow us to secure medical flights for those who need it the most.

You Can Help

We can’t do our good work alone. If patients are flying at no cost, someone has to cover it. You can help. One easy way is to donate your frequent flier miles through Delta Airlines. Here’s how:

      1. Go to https://www.delta.com/buygftxfer/displayDonateMiles.action
      2. Choose American Cancer Society
      3. Log in to your Skymiles Delta account
      4. Confirm donation

For the Win

Mercy Medical Angels and the American Cancer Society are powerful allies in the battle against cancer. When you donate your frequent flier miles, you lift patients towards hope. Together, we can fight this disease – and win!

There are more than 40,000 organizations that help veterans and their families. With so many charities to choose from, the options become overwhelming.

One of the best charities in this category is Mercy Medical Angels and their veterans program, Angel Wings for Veterans. Our mission is to ensure that no veteran in need is denied clinical care because of a lack of transportation. 100{f77eda0a441a5392985456a36d9467949e304252615cb77080f0e5eccc27b851} of your donation goes directly to help veterans and their families. You can easily find other information on our website – financials, how many trips we’ve completed daily or monthly, and testimonials from individuals whom we have helped.

By now, you’re probably thinking: “How exactly do you help veterans and their families?” Here’s a list of 10 ways we accomplish our mission…

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