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In August 2019, 56-year-old Rhonda was experiencing intense back and side pains. Thinking these were complications from an earlier case of pneumonia, Rhonda went to her doctor. Unfortunately, Rhonda had Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system which makes it difficult for the body to fight off infections.

Rhonda began treatments with the National Cancer Institute in September 2019. Although the long journey on the MARC train and metro to get to the NIH campus was tiring, Rhonda pushed through her treatment, which included six rounds of chemotherapy. She says a close friend would help her get to the NIH and that she also had great family support. As of February 2020, Rhonda is cancer-free.

Rhonda is used to helping others through her job as a social worker for Project PLASE, an organization that assists homeless individuals in the Baltimore area. Rhonda still went to work throughout her treatment. However, she was not able to work her normal amount of hours, and her utility bills began to quickly build up. Through the generosity of our donors, Friends of Patients at the NIH was able to step-in and help Rhonda pay a month’s worth of utility bills.

Rhonda says it felt like the “weight of the world” was lifted off her shoulders when she received help from Friends at NIH.

“You don’t have any idea what people who have a bout with any illness, be it cancer, be it anything, you don’t know what they are going through mentally and physically,” Rhonda says. “It’s awesome that you can step-in and help to relieve some of the burden that people are going through.”

Today, Rhonda is back to doing what she does best: helping others. She is back to work at Project PLASE and also volunteers at a coronavirus call center. Rhonda is also helping her friend who helped her throughout her cancer treatments, as his cancer has come back. She is tired, but otherwise feeling much better. She enjoys practicing her faith and spending time with her beloved dog Paula.

Rhonda cannot say enough good things about the “beyond awesome” treatments and her experience with Friends at NIH. To the Friends at NIH donors who helped her pay her bills, she says, “Y’all gave me a peace of mind to do other things, and I want to thank them. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

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