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Kirkland woman battling cancer and facing home foreclosure remains hopeful
Sandy Furness may lose her Kirkland home of 30 years while battling breast cancer and other issues for nearly two years.
Furness, 63, was forced to retire from her 42-year career as a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines - a struggle in itself - when the cancer reached her lymph nodes.
“I had a great job,” Furness said. “That’s why this is so humbling to me. I’ve always been able to take care of myself and then I was forced to retire in June (2011).”
After Furness emptied her savings and her 401K, she was forced to rely on income from Social Security disability, but it still wasn’t enough. Furness, who lives by herself and does not have children, now owes a minimum of $22,000 in back payments for her mortgage loan from Chase Bank.
Furness’s home was set to foreclose in March but she hopes her lawyer will help stall the bank so they can mediate in April.
“I just can’t possibly catch up,” she said of the house payments. “Chase Bank has not given me a loan modification that I’ve been working on for 18 months.”
Furness says she doesn’t qualify for assistance because she owns her house and car. And she hopes to hold on to her home so that she is near her oncologist and elderly mother, who is often in and out of hospice.
“It should be paid for by now but I bought my mom a condo after my dad died,” Furness said of her house. “That took $200,000.”
When Furness discovered she had stage-three breast cancer on in April 2011 she described herself as being in a “fog.”
“I went in for my mammogram on Monday, Tuesday they told me I had cancer and the next week they did a mastectomy because it was so advanced,” Furness said. “They said I had it for 15 years and it had never shown up on a mammogram.”
Furness decided to get both breasts removed for fear of looking like a “unicorn,” she jokes, but also because she didn’t want to worry. As a result, doctors found two other cancerous tumors.
The double mastectomy was the first of many hurdles in her tale of survival. Later, Furness would deal with two rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, two months of daily radiation, abdominal tumor surgery, a hysterectomy and hand and knee surgeries due to her current bout of chemo’s affect on ligaments and joints. Her current form of chemo is taken in pill form, daily, for the next five years and is the third round.
But during Furness’s lows she still finds positivity.
“I’m just tired. Other than that, I still want to go out and have a glass of wine,” she said. “You just have to stay focused and positive because you could sleep all day long.”
Furness creates fabric art through her side-business Sandy’s By Design and attends church at the Eastside Foursquare church in Bothell when she’s feeling healthy enough to.
Foursquare Pastor Ben Vendelin describes Furness as a very strong person in her battle with cancer.
“When I first met her, she was scared but at the same time had a resolve in her that she was going to fight the cancer,” Vendelin said.
Vendelin said Furness had come for the congregation to pray for her, but to also start a relationship with God. They went through the process of praying and when he saw her a few weeks later, he “got the sense that she was really hearing from God in her life.”
“You feel free. I don’t have the false commitments we end up hanging on to,” Furness said. “We’re afraid of failure, afraid to fall but that’s where the Lord comes in.”
Furness gave her testimony to God in a short video for Foursquare and, in it, describes how her life has improved.
“Even though I’m losing my home, I’ve lost my job, I’ve lost my breasts, I’ve lost half of my body parts, I still feel whole and complete because He’s there,” she said. “It is a journey. It is an adventure, and I’m excited for it. I haven’t lost anything, I’ve gained.”
Furness’s most recent cancer test has shown a “couple of issues” but she says she’s still waiting on the results. Nevertheless, if all goes well in her future, she hopes to find a good man and enjoy the peace of retirement.
To help donate toward Furness’s house payments and medical bills, visit U.S. Bank to make a contribution to the Sandy Furness account - last four numbers “1742.”
To contact Furness, email her at email@example.com. To read more about her battle against cancer, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/sandyfurness.