Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

October 22, 2013

'You can't give up. You have to keep going.'

Uninsured single mother with breast cancer stays strong for daughter.

Angie Gritton found herself once again walking blindly down the side streets and alleys of Kokomo. She’d been doing it for days, from sunrise to sunset.

Gritton wasn’t walking for the fun of it. She needed to move, to clear her head, to process the horrible realization that she had breast cancer, no insurance and a 5-year-old daughter who depended on her.

So she walked. Gritton said she walked so much that her feet were still hurting months later.

“I’ve never experienced anxiety and panic attacks like that,” she said. “I lost 10 pounds in four days.”

It all started on a run-of-the-mill morning in June. Gritton said she had just taken a shower and was dressing when her hand passed over a strange lump in her breast.

“It felt odd, but it wasn’t sore, so I thought it was something other than cancer,” she said.

Besides, Gritton was only 35 years old. Women her age didn’t get breast cancer.

She knew her family had a history of lung and throat cancer. In fact, her mother, grandmother and several aunts and uncles had passed away from those diseases.

But breast cancer? Gritton said it was something she never expected she’d get.

Still, the lump worried her. But what worried Gritton even more was shelling out a good chunk of cash to see a doctor without insurance. She’d been living without it since she was laid off from her job at St. Joseph Hospital late last year.

Gritton said she was supporting herself and her daughter off a meager unemployment check, and the prospect of a hefty hospital bill made her debate if a checkup was really worth it.

It was a friend who told her she needed to go, regardless of the price. Gritton said she knew he was serious, because he never went to the hospital.

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