After losing his wife, a father reaches out to the community as he tries to make ends meet.
Jeff Barnes is a cancer survivor and single parent who recently lost his wife, Marion, to pancreatic cancer. Now he is trying to pick up the pieces.
"They've already lost a mother and a wife, and I lost a great friend. I would hate to see them lose this because I don't want to lose the rest of them because they can't pay the bills," neighbor Nicky Conry said.
Marion died last Wednesday, a loss her family feels may not have come so soon if they could afford health insurance.
"The only way for us to get an appointment was for us to come up with $600 cash," Jeff said. "And we made the house payment instead of paying that; I think that was a mistake."
When Jeff was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, the family was forced to file for bankruptcy.
He was able to beat the disease, but the challenges just kept coming.
Jeff feels he is a part of a forgotten class.
"I make $13 an hour. I'm in a dead zone I don't make enough, but I make too much. Everyone is always talking about the middle class, but what about the people in my position that don't get help because they make too much money but not enough to survive," said Jeff.
It was not until the Saturday before she passed away that Medicare approved Marion for financial assistance.
Unfortunately at that point, she was too weak to recover.
"It's hard because we have health insurance, and it's easy for us to go to the doctor and be seen. But to watch somebody who doesn't have health insurance, it is horrible," said Conry.
Jeff's wife is gone, and the heartache and debt left behind are difficult to bear, he said.
"I had to count on donations from my brother and other family members, but its been a struggle," said Jeff.
With elections just a few months away, Jeff wishes he could get answers to the question he and others would like to have.
"It's aggravating me. I'd like to address the president and want-to-be president: 'What are you going to do about the low class and the no class?'" said Jeff.
Barnes took a week off from work to be at his wife's side during her last days.
He will return to work tomorrow but is worried he may not be able to pay the bills this month.
If you can help, contact the Delta Bank Center and ask to donate to the Marion Barnes Memorial Fund.
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