Chemo or Rent? Shutdown Forces Heartbreaking Choices

Editor's Note (Jan. 23, 2019, 1:05 p.m. ET): Information on how to donate to Latimer has been updated. 

Quashawn Latimer is a furloughed federal worker fighting stage 2 cancer. Without her paycheck, her family is facing a heartbreaking decision: whether to pay the rent or for chemotherapy-related expenses.

"Worst-case scenario, we lose our home," said Latimer, who was diagnosed last summer. "I'll be evicted and I'll have to go stay with friends or family or something. That's worst-case. And that's next month. Can't negotiate with my chemo. That has to happen. So if it's chemo or the rent, chemo wins."

For just over a month now, Latimer, a wife and mother who lives in Millersville, Maryland, has lived without a paycheck due to the partial government shutdown.

"I still have medical expenses that are not covered by insurance," she said. "Although my husband is a postal worker, we still need [money for] those miscellaneous expenses that come with having this medical thing, this disease called cancer."

Latimer has been working for the government for the past 11 years. She did not want to share which agency she works for.

"Real-life people are being affected with real-life day-to-day decisions," Latimer said. "It's just unfortunate. It just seems so unnecessary and uncalled for, and it's frustrating. And it's like we don't even have a say in it."

Latimer has a Paypal account to attempt to raise funds.

Anne Arundel Medical Center said they have programs to help patients in need of financial assistance. However, they say donations for specific individuals are not tax-deductible. 

"If donors wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, they can request that their donation go to AAMC's financial assistance fund, which is used to help relieve the financial burden of care for qualifying patients," a spokeswoman for the medical center said. "Those wishing to make a donation can call 443-481-6661."

MSNBC's Mariana Atencio originally reported this story.

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