Barbara Lawlor, Peak to Peak. Last March, Mindy Wales was diagnosed with lung cancer and since then has been struggling to stay afloat financially. Although Medicaid is paying for her medical bills, being unable to continue her three jobs has left her falling behind in paying her bills. Mindy is a long time Gilpin County resident, she owned a photography business in Central City and has two sons who graduated from Nederland High School.
She has received support from friends, has borrowed money from her younger son Wyatt’s college loans and now Cody, her oldest son, is organizing a benefit to help support her while she deals with not only the cancer but also with a kidney problem that might be caused by the chemo treatments.
Cody has been a drummer playing in local bands since he was 16 years old and is now touring the country with Magic Beans and True Blue. He says he has played in every state but four and is on the road most of the time.
Last year, Mindy, after not feeling well for a long time, suffering from a constant cough, went to her doctor who told her she should go to a lung doctor. She was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
She was soon unable to work and had to quit her full time job. In February, she discovered a lump on her head, about the size of a ping pong ball.
“It was more annoying than painful, but I could feel it grow,” says Mindy. After consulting her doctor, she underwent a biopsy and was sent to the Boulder Cancer Center. She was told that the lump on her head was a result of lung cancer, that she had been misdiagnosed with COPD.
Her cancer was spreading fast and she began chemo treatments right away, once every three weeks.
“I could barely walk. I thought I was going to die,” says Mindy. When she was put on a new medicine for lung cancer, she began to feel better, able to walk farther and things were looking up. Then a test revealed that her kidneys were functioning at a low level and although doctors are not sure why, they thought it might be the new medicine so she had to stop taking it. This week she is having a biopsy on her kidneys.
Cody says he has been devastated with worry about his mom and has been trying to figure out a way to help ease her anxiety.
“I decided to do a benefit so she doesn’t have to worry about paying the basic bills. She needs to make payments on her car so she has reliable transportation to get to the doctor.”
Mindy says she is keeping a positive outlook on the situation, that she feels it is going to be okay. She and Cody have always been close and he was having nightmares until the chemo began to shrink the tumors.
“It is tough being on the road knowing that my mom was sick and needed help. The money issue adds to the stress. When she has to borrow money from my little brother, it is a messed up role reversal and having a benefit concert seemed to be the best way to help the situation.”
Cody contacted his friends, local musicians on Facebook, to see if anyone was interested in helping out and says the response was “crazy.” The Thanks For Giving Benefit for Mindy Wales was born. Over 35 musicians have agreed to play at the Stage Stop on Saturday, Nov. 28, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Members of Leftover Salmon, Magic Beans, New Family Dog and other bands will take the stage and Cody says the concert will be epic. The sound and lights have been donated and the local music scene has rallied to make the concert a top notch event.
Cody has received many donations that will be for sale, including music lessons, CDs, massages and more. Scramble Campbell will be creating his amazing art set to music.
It will be a non-stop musical blend, with musicians mixing and matching, with a $15 donation at the door.
Cody says he also set up a GoFundMe account under Cancer Sucks Save Mama Wales.
Right now, Mindy’s life revolves around doctors and appointments. She says she occasionally gets out to go on a short road trip, but after a life of working three jobs to support the family, she is not used to not doing anything.
The family is gathering around Mindy and now the community is working to help out, to help keep them strong in fighting, to get Mama Wales well.