Help for Arizona families fighting cancer

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- At age 31, Michelle Hastings, a mother of two, balancing career and family, received a diagnosis she never expected, stage 3 colon cancer.

“It stopped my world in its tracks,” said Hastings, diagnosed in 2008, on the day of her mother’s birthday. “We have no family history, no reason to suspect this would come about.”

Hastings told 3TV she underwent surgery and chemo and went into remission, but last year she learned her cancer had spread.

“Cancer became all consuming, became the focus of our family,” she said.

Not only an emotional drain for her husband and children, but a financial one too.  Hastings said cancer can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, before insurance. 

She said, even with good insurance, her treatment costs close to $10,000 out of pocket each year.  That doesn’t include costs you don’t think about, such as transportation to and from appointments.

“You’re kinda at a crossroads; do you pay the mortgage? Do you pay the rent, or do you get this lifesaving treatment?” said Hastings.

However, last Spring while undergoing treatment at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Hastings learned of an organization that could help. 

Arizona Assistance In Health Care is a not-for-profit which provides money for emergency, non-medical expenses that can range from rent to car payments to utilities bills.

“When I started to hear these stories, to see this need, it just broke my heart,” said AAHC Board member Tiffany Payette.  “People who couldn’t keep their electricity on for their children, for their families.”

Payette says since the organization started in 2008, AAHC has helped more than 500 families fighting cancer.  This year, between grants and new donations, they hope to potentially help more families than ever before.

“We want the word out even more,” said Payette.  “We have the resources necessary to help even more people out there.”

Payette says families who qualify typically receive a set amount of $250 a month, and then reapply each month.

It’s a bit of relief that Michelle Hastings says brings peace of mind, allowing her to focus instead on healing.

“We’re still in the fight,” said Hastings of her cancer.  “I’ve got two children. I have to be here to raise them. I will fight tooth and nail to make sure I’m here for them.”

For more information on Arizona Assistance in Health Care, go to