PORTLAND, Ore. — Brandy L’Roy has been a nurse for 20 years. She’s used to caring for others, but this summer she was thrown a curveball.
“The first couple of months I didn't know what to do with myself,” she said, "because I wasn't at my job and I didn't have a routine.”
In June, the caregiver became the patient. Brandy was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.
“It had metastasized to my lymphovascular system as well. So in July, I had a double mastectomy, and then I started chemotherapy in August and I'm currently in the midst of finishing up some chemotherapy and then I'll be on to radiation and surgery again.”
Her prognosis is good, but she had to step away from her job. Brandy, a single mom, had to figure out fast how to care for her 6-year-old twins Bodie and Annebelle.
That’s when Andy McCandless stepped in.
In 2012, she founded Michelle's Love, a nonprofit that helps single moms battling cancer in the Portland area.
“These are the three things we do. We clean houses, we provide meals, we pay rent mortgages,” said McCandless.
She explained that Michelle's Love is named after her dear friend, Michelle.
“I started Michelle's Love after losing my best friend to cancer. She was 32 years old and she died in 2005,” she said. “I would say ‘what do you need?’ And she would say ‘nothing.’ And so I wouldn't do anything, right? Because that's what people do… I don't think I fully understood how exhausted she was or what she was going through. She wouldn't communicate it and I wasn't asking.”
McCandless still isn’t asking — because now she knows what’s needed.
Michelle’s Love has served 154 families. Brandy’s family is one of six the nonprofit is currently serving.
“With the support of Michelle's Love, they have paid for my rent, they have provided meals for my family, they provided gas for my car so I can get to my appointments and without them, I don't know if I'd have a roof over my head," Brandy said.
This year alone, Michelle’s Love has provided for 43 families, including $80,00 in utilities, rent and mortgage payments, $3,400 in gas cards and $15,000 in meals.
“When I meet a family, I do see Michelle and in that,” said Andy. “I see Michelle and I wish I would have known then what I know now… she's touched hundreds of lives… and it's all in Michelle's name.”
To donate or volunteer, visit michelleslove.org