Federal worker forgoes cancer treatment due to lack of pay after partial government shutdown

SPRING BRANCH, Texas – The partial government shutdown is making the fight against cancer even tougher than normal for one woman. Taci Palmer, who lives in Spring Branch, is one of the 800,000 federal workers who have not been paid since Dec. 21.

Palmer is fighting stage-four ovarian cancer and is still trying to make sure her children have everything they need.

With the shutdown now on day 24, Palmer has chosen to forgo cancer treatments and checkups in order to make ends meet.

“In my situation, it was like a one, two punch,” Palmer said.

The single mother said as a federal employee, she was already living paycheck to paycheck.

“A lot of us are single parents who make ($30,000 to) $38,000 a year,” Palmer said.  “We don't have these $85,000 figures.”

In 2017, Palmer was diagnosed with stage-four ovarian cancer. The tumor removal surgery and chemotherapy treatment left her with $60,000 of debt. 

“Last year going through chemo treatment, I was already stacked up with bills overdue and past due going into the shutdown,” Palmer said.

Palmer says right now she’s just trying to put food on the table for her 16-year-old son with special needs, Tanner. She said what keeps her going are her sons Tanner and Justin who is 21.

“I've been a single parent most of their childhood and I've been strong for them,” Palmer said. “Now, I'm going to cry, because they are being strong for me during my time of need. They've both been there. They are with me through the fight every day.”

Palmer said her doctor told her most stage four ovarian cancer patients don't live for more than four years. She is at the one-year mark and is fighting to beat the odds.

“At the end of the day I just want to be here two and a half more years to get my youngest through high school and graduation,” Palmer said.

Even with everything she has been through, she is staying positive.

“I am luckier than some people,” Palmer said. “I was given a notice, given more time. How many people get that? I’ve gotten to raise my kids. At the end of the day, I'm lucky for what I've gotten.”

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