Divorced, Chris and Wendy still love each other and are raising their children together.
They both have health problems and live on social security benefits. They pay $800 a month in rent for a rundown duplex on the north side of town. Chris was diagnosed with cancer in April of 2016. Chris died April 15, 2018.
September 2017: Chris receives great news. He is cancer free. “Wendy's been there beside me the whole time I've had cancer and she hasn't let me down. Right now, I'm cancer free and if it wasn't for Wendy and Caroline, the lady from church, I would've gave up a long time ago. But they kept me going, wanted me to fight it and I fought it, and now I'm cancer free and I'm doing my last chemo next week. Then after that, to keep the cancer all the way dead and to get rid of it out of my system, I have to take at least going there for an hour every two weeks and do another part of chemo, and it's a new kind of drug they're going to put me on or to clean it out, get rid of all of it,” Chris says. “I thank God every day that He's took this cancer away from me and He's given me another chance. People take God for... People take advantage of God. If God gives you another chance at a life, you need to take that chance and do it right instead of doing it wrong.”
Chris speaks of the fortune of having Medicaid and Medicare insurance. “My medical bills would be high if I didn't have Medicare and Medicaid. They'd be so high I wouldn't be able to ... I'd be in debt for the rest of my life, and the same with Wendy. She'd be in debt if she didn't have it. Fortunately, we got it so we're trying to take it one day at a time. We're going to make it.”
Before the Affordable Care Act, medical bills were the leading cause of bankruptcies in America. Since the ACA was adopted, medical related bankruptcies dropped by about 50 percent.
December 2017: “I’ve been here for nine years and all I've had to do was duct tape walls. Every single time, the walls just fall. We've had two of them fall from one in my daughter's room. The plaster on the ceilings is what fell down,” Wendy said. “If somebody was in Jessica's room, they could have got hit by it. The one that's going up the steps, if somebody was coming down at 1 in the morning to do something or get a drink, they would have got hit in the head.
“It took a year to fix that front window in Zachary's room,” Wendy continued. “The window sill was coming away from the wall. On the window, my son broke some out, and when he broke them out, I kept paying my landlord on them every month, and he had to fix them all. He hasn't broke them since. The apartment looks like a dump. It's a duplex. It looks like you're just living in a dump and I pay $800 for rent. My next door neighbors don't pay that much, but I pay $800, because all my kids and my pregnant daughter that lives with me, and my cousin. I live here because I can't afford another place and every time we do try to find somewhere over a five-bedroom place, no one wants us. They think we got too many people. It's not that we can't handle the money, it's just, or the rent, we just, we don't meet their criteria.”