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Cancer treatment keeps mom unemployed

MANCHESTER - Last year, Natalie noticed that a lump kept growing on her shoulder.

On Halloween Day 2011, doctors took three layers of muscle tissue from her left shoulder to remove a rare form of cancer from the 22-year-old's body, she said.

The operation has left her disabled and unable to return to her minimum-wage job as a supermarket cashier. She turned to the New Hamppshire Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army to help provide her 2-year-old son a few Christmas gifts.

"I can't pick up or lift anything heavy, for example a cup of milk," she said. "Laundry is too much work for my left arm."

Natalie (not her real name) said she receives $600 in Social Security disability payments. Back problems have also left her boyfriend disabled. Together, they receive $1,600 in disability and food stamps. Most of their rent is covered by the Section 8 voucher program, and she relies on food stamps and the food pantries to put food on the table.

She's not sure of her future. She thinks about eventually going into child care work, but her wound cannot tolerate a sharp blow at this point; she said radiation treatment can make her doze off.

"I can be with my son now. I don't have to worry about him," she said.

Natalie said she plans to set up a Mickey Mouse Christmas decoration, and she and her boyfriend may purchase a tree. Their son is still a little too young to appreciate the season.

"He's so fun. When opening presents, he always gets such a smile on his face," she said.

Natalie said she will spend Christmas Eve with her boyfriend and son at their apartment. She plans to eat Christmas dinner at his father's house, where a relative plans to dress as Santa Claus for her son. Then they will return to their east Manchester home and watch a few movies.

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The generosity of Santa Fund donors makes it possible for the holidays to still be a joyful time. The Santa Fund makes food, clothing and gifts available during the holiday season, so ?nancially stressed families can put their resources toward paying bills for basic needs.

Santa Fund donations may be made by sending a check to the Union Leader Santa Fund, in care of the New Hampshire Union Leader, P.O. Box 9555, Manchester 03108; or by placing a donation in the Santa Fund box in the lobby of the newspaper, at 100 William Loeb Drive, Manchester, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Donations can also be made online at www.unionleader.com/santafund.

Every effort is made to promptly publish Santa Fund contributions. Donors who wish to see their contributions listed before Christmas are encouraged to submit them as soon as possible. The Union Leader publishes photos of donors of $1,000 or more.

For more information, call Christy Detrude at 668-4321, ext. 507.

        

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