‘That’s my Tina’: Longtime Truckee nurse fighting breast cancer, in need of aid
For roughly the past four decades, Tina Jones has worked tirelessly to help others in the community as a nurse at Tahoe Forest Hospital.
During much of the past 10 years, however, Tina has been the one receiving health care treatments as she battles against breast cancer, and with medical bills and other expenses piling up, the Jones family is now reaching out to the community she long served.
“She was a patient advocate,” said her husband Casey Jones. “Instead of being a corporate nurse, she was a patient’s nurse — the best of care whatever it may be. I want people to know that she is in need.”
The two have been married for 34 years, spending their years in the Truckee-Tahoe area skiing, and working at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, which is how they first crossed paths. Casey was a ski patroller, and Tina worked at Alpine Meadows as a nurse in the first aid room.
As the years went by they started a family, raising two sons, Morgan and Michael. Then in 2010, Tina was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She opted for aggressive treatment, and a team of surgeons performed a double mastectomy.
The operation was successful, but in 2016 the cancer returned.
‘QUITE A SLAP’
“I was on a fire down by Vandenberg Air Force Base,” said Casey, who spends summers working for the forest service. “And I get this call in the morning, and she’s just so tearful. It was scary.”
Due to the side effects from chemotherapy after the cancer reappeared, Tina was forced to retire after 40 years of nursing, most of which was served at Tahoe Forest Hospital. The nurse who once schooled doctors on what type of bandaging to use on patients could no longer fight the exhaustion induced by the treatments.
With her retirement from the hospital, she lost her insurance.
“There was nothing,” said Casey. “Once she was diagnosed with cancer it was like, ‘We can’t help you.’ That was quite a slap.”
Tina was able to make use of Covered California before switching to early Medicare, but the cost of premiums, non-covered expenses, travel to appointments in San Francisco, a son in college, and other bills has left the family in need of help.
During the past three years, Tina has undergone three rounds of chemotherapy. The first worked for two years, but the past two have been ineffective due to the cancer becoming resistant.
BACK TO THE BATTLE
Over the past three weeks, Tina has started radiation therapy in an effort to kill the cancer in place and prevent additional spreading.
In order to help with the expenses incurred, the Jones family has set up a GoFundMe campaign at gofundme.com/f/mom-wife-ski-bum-river-runner-breast-cancer-fight with a goal of raising $200,000. As of Thursday, Oct. 10, the account has raised $19,025 from 129 donors.
During her past 40 years as a nurse, Tina has helped countless patients, and to this day Casey said he still runs into a stranger only to find out his wife once helped them.
“I’ll be talking to someone somewhere and they’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, I had her for a nurse,’” he said. “Or they’ll say, ‘She helped my dad. She was awesome!’ And I’m going, yep that’s my Tina.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.