In 2011, Terrence’s wife Tracy was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. The aggressive treatment left Tracy unable to work, so Terrence became the sole supporter for the couple and their young son.
While Tracy’s cancer could be treated to prolong her life, Terrence and Tracy knew she would never be “cured,” because of how advanced the cancer was when she was diagnosed. So, while Terrence was eligible for unpaid family and medical leave through his employer, he knew he needed to save that leave for the end of Tracy’s life, when she and their son would need him the most.
That left Terrence scrambling for the better part of six and a half years. Scrambling when Tracy was admitted to the hospital. Scrambling when she needed around the clock care after surgery. Scrambling to figure out how to use his limited vacation days to support his wife and son. Scrambling to figure out how the family would live on one income instead of two.
When Tracy began hospice care, Terrence was lucky to have coworkers who donated paid leave time so that he would not have to go without pay while he cared for his family. Terrence was able to take the time he needed to be with his wife at the end of her life and help their 12 year-old son begin to cope with the death of his mother.
“I got lucky. In other workplaces, I wouldn’t have stood a chance. Being able to take paid leave at the end of Tracy’s life meant I was able to be with my family without sacrificing our financial future. But, we shouldn’t leave things that are this important up to luck.”Terrence