DAYTON - A Dayton mother recently diagnosed with colon cancer found out last week that she needs chemotherapy.
Wendy Robards also learned that finding a doctor to treat an uninsured cancer patient is next to impossible.
"Right now I'm living in the unknown," said Robards, 39, a single mother of three, including a 17-year-old daughter with special needs.
In mid-November, a colonoscopy revealed Robards had a 3-inch tumor. She underwent surgery to remove the mass on Dec. 2.
On Dec. 16, Robards' surgeon told her they had found cancer in two of the 14 lymph nodes removed during the surgery.
Robards said Wednesday that she believes she's Stage III, but she hasn't yet spoken to a cancer specialist.
The first local oncologist's office she called wouldn't even discuss her options with her because she was uninsured, she said.
"When she tried to make an appointment for treatment from several cancer doctors she was told they do not take 'self-pay' patients and would not even see her," said friend Janet Lochman, who, along with several friends, is in a frenzy figuring out how to raise money to help save Robards' life.
Lochman organized two fundraisers and opened a checking account to help Robards with the bills.
"I see doctors going to other countries all the time to perform much needed surgeries and I think that's good, but why not right here in their own town? She needs chemo ASAP," Lochman said.
Robards said she finally found a Carson doctor who will see her on Jan. 6 and a Reno doctor who will see her after that.
But as she waits for Medicaid to kick in, and relies on the charity of her friends and strangers to keep her and her children afloat, this one-time happy mom has found herself going through the motions of living.
"I was painting my nails and I thought, why am I doing my nails right now, I have cancer," she said. "You know how they say, 'living with cancer'? Well, I don't feel like I'm living, I feel like I'm existing. It's the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of when I go to bed. All I can hear is cancer, cancer, cancer."
The not knowing is the toughest part.
"I want information. I want facts. Right now I'm thinking the worst," she said. "I want to get to the living part."