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Donations pour in for family as Slidell mom passes after cancer battle

“It breaks my heart. I feel like I'm failing them,” said Nicole Harris in an interview with Medical Reporter Meg Farris.

SLIDELL, La. — A Slidell mother in her late 40s, was hoping for a chance to try an experimental treatment to save her life, but she kept facing obstacles to that chance for survival. After a story on her plight ran on WWL-TV, the community responded with an abundance that we could have never imagined.

Two weeks ago WWL-TV shared Nicole Harris' story. A single mom, dying of cancer who ran into roadblocks for possible treatment with costs, distance and insurance issues. When Medicaid would not pay for her to go to an out-of-town clinical trial, she ran out of hope.

“And uh there's no way I could come up with that kind of money. I mean I'm sitting here with a treatment that could give me years right in my grasp, and I couldn't have it” Nicole Harris, 49, said as she cried, on November 17.

Her main concern was leaving her three children. 

“It breaks my heart. I feel like I'm failing them,” she said crying on November 17.   

To add to that, disability would not kick in because she still had the stimulus money in her account. But after Nicole's story aired, donations started pouring in. Two separate groups, all strangers to the Harris family, asked for their Christmas list. 

“Her story touched me because I’m a 20-year breast cancer survivor, and I saw it, and the first thing I thought when I was diagnosed was what's going to happen to my children,” said Tiffany McGary, who calls her outreach Project Blessings. 

With the help of corporate sponsors and Covington Councilman Peter Lewis, Tiffany McGary played Santa. There's clothes, electronics and more. She is working on getting oldest son, Damien, a car before college next year. Another group who wanted to remain in the background, also came with their arms full. The three children, still at school, have no idea.

“It's just overwhelming. I just couldn't believe all the offers we had of things.  I had to turn people down, and tell them we have enough, and maybe there's another family they could help,” said Linda Brister, Nicole’s mother.

Neighbors donated a beach trip to the family to create memories. The government called saying they would give back pay for all the disability payments they never sent. A family from Florida, again strangers, came and decorated the entire house and raked the front lawn. The Go Fund Me account went way above its goal for college funds.

And that's not all. After our story ran, an internationally known oncologist called. He said he wanted to do anything he could to treat Nicole and save her life, but she was never able to make it to the appointment.

That's because last week Nicole went into hospice. Her pain and battle ended Thanksgiving night.

“It was the whole family gathered around her, put our hands on her told her that it was OK, that we all loved her, that we were going to take care of the kids. She didn't' have to worry about all that,” said Stephanie Lacayo, Nicole’s sister.

Their grandmother will now finish raising her child's children, knowing that the daughter she adored, inspired the Christmas spirit in so many.

To find out more about what cancer clinical trials are going on locally:


RELATED: Slidell mom with months to live, couldn't afford to fight 'very treatable' cancer

RELATED: Louisiana cancer study to provide in-state clinical trials

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