WESTFIELD, NJ — The 54-year-old single mom and longtime Union County resident didn’t think her life would get worse after her home in Westfield was foreclosed on.
Then Annie Vann-Ashkenazi, a mother of four, got the call from Overlook Medical Center.
“Two days after I got here, I received a call from Overlook Hospital that changed everything,” Vann-Ashkenazi, 54, said by telephone from her home in Fayetteville, NY. “I have breast cancer: invasive carcinoma.”
Her 19-year-old son has been driving her to treatments at the hospital in Summit, where she secured Medicaid assistance. And her family has been supportive, Vann-Ashkenazi said, including her ex-husband in New Jersey, who she will be staying with following an upcoming mastectomy.
The surgery, her doctors have told her, will include removing her underarm lymph nodes, which will prevent her from having full use of her arms during several weeks of recovery, Vann-Ashkenazi said. She is grateful for family and friends’ support.
With her Westfield home in foreclosure and medical costs mounting, a friend of Vann-Ashkenazi’s established an online fundraiser, at GoFundMe, to help her pay the bills.
“After being diagnosed, you just take it as a day-by-day. It's a step-by-step process,” said Vann-Ashkenazi, who lived in Scotch Plains before moving to Westfield. “And then you learn to rely on other people.”
Vann-Ashkenazi, who lived in Scotch Plains before moving to Westfield, had volunteered for the JCC of Central New Jersey, in Scotch Plains, for about seven years.
An advocate for fighting childhood cancer, Vann-Ashkenazi said, she finds herself in need.
“It’s like a roller coaster but all-and-all the outcome, it’s [going to be] good,” Vann-Ashkenazi said. “There’s more good than bad from this.”
Her children, Ari, 21, Ethan, 19, Ronnie, 11, and Benzi, 9, have been understanding and helpful, Vann-Ashkenazi said.
“God only knows what the future holds,” Vann-Ashkenazi said. “Medical technology is amazing. Support is amazing. At this point, I’m taking it step-by-step. I have surgery Oct. 16.”