FAIR LAWN, N.J. — After a double diagnosis of Stage II breast cancer in July, borough resident and single mother Bernadette Vargas was let go from her job, leaving her with no health insurance or income to support her three kids.
Vargas' cousin, Veronica Jackson of Wallington, established a GoFundMe account — Bernadette's Battle Against Cancer — that in three weeks brought in $2,737. Her goal is $6,000.
“It’s a disgusting nightmare,” Jackson told the Daily Voice. “It’s gotten to the point where [Vargas] doesn’t want to open her mail because the bills are just piling up.”
Vargas, 45, was recently approved for charity care but is still required to reimburse her former company for the insurance money that early on covered doctors appointments, medications and two chemotherapy treatments.
"I know that I am blessed and extremely lucky for all that my children and I have," said Vargas, moments before undergoing her third chemotherapy treatment yesterday. "Through the bad there always is good, and it makes you appreciate the good much more.
"I know it happened for a reason. My blessings far outweigh anything that cancer throws my way."
Jackson is hopeful a benefit walk in Wayne on Saturday, Oct. 4, will help raise more money for Vargas. The 8 a.m. walk includes breakfast and giveaways at University Imaging, on the St. Joseph’s Hospital campus.
“[Vargas] is a person who’s always there for everyone else,” Jackson said. “While [another relative] was battling cancer she was the first one to help him.
“She really doesn’t feel like she’s deserving," she said. "She’s just so humble and appreciative of the smallest things.
“It’s beautiful and it breaks my heart at the same time.”
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