STILL KICKIN HERO AUGUST 2019
Every month, we provide financial support to an awesome person or family going through something awful. Meet Dalveer.
Dalveer is a public health professional, comedian and writer. She's also a young widow who, when we chatted, had exactly $4.29 in her bank account and wasn't sure how she'd afford the surgery she needs to manage her chronic illness.
Originally from England (yes, she has a lovely accent that we could listen to all day long), Dalveer had been living in New York for about a year and married for just a year and half when her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer.
"I didn't know how the health care system here worked," she told us. (And really, do any of us truly know how it works?) "The hospital asked for Hargobind's insurance card, and I was like, 'What does an insurance card even look like?'"
For two years, Dalveer and her husband worked their butts off to keep him alive: Dalveer by going to work by day and caring for her husband by night, Hargobind by undergoing multiple surgeries and all sorts of treatments for his glioblastoma. One of those surgeries resulted in a complication that left him paralyzed on the left side and in need of constant care — in New York, where making a tiny apartment building wheelchair-accessible isn't a simple feat (and your landlord might try to evict you if you do, as in their case).
When Dalveer was unexpectedly laid off from her public health job, she panicked. "I remember thinking, Shit... how am I going to keep this insurance? I had already been feeling frantic about how we were going to keep our home on one income. Now, it was: How do we keep our home, and how do we pay for his health care?"
Through it all, Dalveer and her husband continued to love each other deeply. "He was the best man anybody could ever have... and I'm not just saying that because he's dead!" she joked. "We'd go to medical appointments and he'd say, 'I'll take the treatment, but only if my wife doesn't have to do one more thing for me.'"
When Dalveer was 35 years old, just a couple of months after their fourth wedding anniversary, Hargobind died in her arms in their apartment. This may sound touching and beautiful in theory, but in reality? Not so much.
"I thought hospice would come, but they didn't. I had to Google how to know when somebody's dead. There was no doctor. There was nobody there who could confirm medically, 'Yeah... he's dead.'"
Dalveer's own health suffered during her husband's illness, and since his death it's significantly deteriorated. She's working, but not at the senior level she was at in her career before her husband got sick, and she used up all her paid leave for a surgery she had in May. Dalveer is currently in need of more surgery but can't afford the copays on top of the unpaid time away from her job. Meanwhile, more bills for Hargobind's treatments land in her mailbox every month.
"I feel like I'm drowning in the consequences of my husband passing away," she told us. "I feel like I'm always trying to catch up with life. I feel stuck. And top of all of that? He's still dead."
With help from your donations and merch purchases, Still Kickin is giving Dalveer an unrestricted financial grant so she can afford those copays and get the medical help she needs. So she can pay for simple things — like, you know, groceries. So she can have more than just $4.29 in her bank account.