Island native needs a little help from the community

September 17, 2021
By T Michele Walker

The Atha family had a summer that none of them were expecting. What started as a little discomfort and indigestion for Loretta Atha, quickly escalated in an unexpected way.

On July 8, Loretta was taken to her Gastroenterologist for pain and swelling of her stomach. A CT scan was ordered for the next day, and they received the call that every family dreads. Loretta has stage 4 colon cancer with signs of it metastasizing to the liver.

Loretta was sent to the hospital and after two colonoscopies and a stint put in her colon, she underwent a three-hour surgery where they removed the mass and made sure that cancer did not spread to any other organs.

Luckily, the cancer had not spread. The recovery from the surgery is going well but there is still a long road ahead to battle the cancer that was left in her liver.

Finally home and slowly recuperating, Loretta and her family are facing a problem no family should face. Because the doctor originally misdiagnosed Loretta with acid reflux, her insurance is denying her claim, saying it is a pre-existing condition. No official testing for acid reflux was performed, other than gentle pressure applied to her upper abdomen.

In addition to not being able to work for eight weeks, Loretta is now having to face the stress of paying a hospital bill that is far out of her means.

It’s in challenging times like these when friends step forward to lend a helping hand. Rick Montgomery, Owner of Lightray Media & Island TV, is such a friend and has started a “GoFundMe” page to help the Atha family in their time of need.

“What Loretta is going through is just a horrible ordeal, and her daughter is going through this as well,” said Rick. “It’s a really hard time and I’m doing everything I can under the sun to help the family.”

“I know most people will say they have the best mom in the world,” began Loretta’s daughter, Lindsay. “But in my world, mine has no comparison. She is the most compassionate and loving person you will meet. Even after talking to her for five minutes, you will feel as if you had been friends for years.”

“Loretta is a childhood friend of mine,” added Rick. “We grew up together on the island and she spent her whole childhood, up into her adult years on the island. Loretta worked at The Temptation when my parents, John and Jane Montgomery owned the restaurant, 1969 to 1992. She worked with us pretty much the whole time, starting as a dishwasher and doing everything from cooking, prep work, waitressing, hosting, everything that you can imagine in a restaurant.”

 “She took care of her brother and my father until their final breath when they had cancer,” continued Lindsay. “Even now while trying to wrap her mind around what she is facing, she still worries about those around her. I am asking for help to take one less stress off of her so she can fully focus on healing and overcoming this battle. Praying for her miracle.”

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For information on how to donate, below is also a link to Loretta Atha’s “GoFundMe” page.