GovGives: Help a GovLooper Achieve a Dream – Cancer, Slovakia, Triplets & Medical Bills

GovLoop is more than a website, more than a social network…it truly is a community.

And as a community, we’ve launched an Acquisitions 2.0 movement, created radio shows, given over $20,000 to charity via Kiva, helped kids with diabetes through the AwesomeGov Fund, and helped put people in jobs.
And when someone in the community is in need…we help them out.
So today we are launching a drive to help out one of our members: David Broadwell.

He is a former USGS employee who (worked at 3 different agencies) and GovLooper, whose wife Antonia was diagnosed with an extremely rare, high grade cancer just eight months after giving birth to triplets. Her one goal in life now is to spend her remaining months in her native country (Slovakia) surrounded by friends. You can read more about David via our Member of the Week feature as well as David sharing the story in his own words below and on his website:

They have asked for 20 supporters to raise $2,500 to reach their dream –
build a home in Slovakia to spend their remaining months.

Will you help us to be one of the 20 supporters and raise $2,500 for David and his family? Here are the steps:

1 – Goal
– Our goal as a community is $2,500

2 – Match
– GovLoop will match $.50 for every dollar donated. (up to reaching our goal of $2500)

3 – How
– Please send money via paypal to [email protected] (Use the link below as well as ) – money will be collected by GovLoop which we’ll combine and present as one check to David and his family.

4 – Thank You!
All members who donate $100 or more will be sent a GovLoop t-shirt as an appreciation for their generous support (GovLoop Rockstar or I’m Big on GovLoop).

5 – Other Ways to Give – We recognize that economic times are tough and that not all of you can give financially. That’s why we’re also asking for ideas or other resources that may be able to help David and his family. Do you know someone at Habitat for Humanity or have you worked with the organization? Maybe you can help David get in touch with them (per his references to unsuccessful attempts below). What about any contacts at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?? Hey – why not!? The sky’s the limit and this community has some powerful connections.

6 – Special Note – I know some people can be skeptical even when they mean well. So I wanted you to know that we’ve talked to David several times and we’ve verified his situation with former colleagues and performed all necessary due diligence on the story – this is truly a caring govie who is in a dire situation.

Here’s David’s story in his own words…

I am writing you with an urgent appeal.
As I am sure you know by now, Antonia and I are moving to Slovakia at the end of March. We are moving there so that Antonia can be close to her family as she deals with cancer. She wants this more than anything else in her life right now.

She wants the security of knowing where her children will be raised – that they will be raised surrounded by her family.

Her parents, grandparents, Godparents, and brother all live in the same town. Her mother and father have given us a small piece of land next to them to build a house on.

This is where I need your help. I have reached the conclusion that I can not do this alone. This past year has been difficult as we have given up everything, including our home and car, to pay for medical bills to fight Antonia’s disease. And we are still fighting. There is one thing we do have however, and that is a piece of land in Slovakia called Hope.

The bottom line: Antonia is 32 years old, battling cancer, and a mother of three children, all 16 months old. All she wants at this point in her life is to live in one small peaceful corner of the world close to her family.

I have sent this to you asking that you help raise $2500 to build a house for Antonia. The cost to build a house in Slovakia is around $75,000 from the ground up. Our goal is to do it for $50,000. And with the help of 20 volunteers raising $2500 each this can be done. The construction will be done by myself, her father and her brother.

This is my last hope of trying to create something stable and certain in Antonia’s life. Now is the time. Not 2 or 3 years from now, but now is the time. I feel that time is running out. Whether this feeling is founded or not, I don’t know, all I know is that the feeling is real.

I have contacted Habitat for Humanity including their international office requesting assistance, but my application was denied twice. Even my repeated phone calls and emails fell on deaf ears.

So now we have reached this critical point in our lives. We know we will be sacrificing the conveniences we are used to here in America, but it is for one thing – and one thing only – and that is for Antonia to be able to raise her children next to her family.

I have one goal in my life right now and that is to provide Antonia with this wish.

I am aware that you have your own families to think about and I understand that not everyone is going to care. However, I am asking that you care just this one time.

Please help me do this for my wife.

The goal of raising $2500 is doable and it can be reached. People do it all the time in raising funds for cancer walks, school & team events, Boy Scout, Girl Scout projects, etc.. This is a one-time event that does something Big. Your part actually builds a home for a family. It builds a home where two brothers and a sister can grow up laughing and playing together. But more importantly, it’s a place where a beautiful young woman called Antonia can close her eyes at night and know her children will be safe and secure surrounded by the closeness of family for years to come.

This is a moment in your life that comes around where you can look back and say, “I made a real difference in someone’s life.” “I made a real and tangible difference.” Because IT DOES. Your help is something that will last forever, as long as Antonia walks this earth, and beyond through her children.

Please write Antonia and tell her you will be one of the 20 fundraisers that will build her a home.


David Broadwell

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Andrea Schneider

I am really touched by this appeal. I know how hard it is to ask for help when things are tough and seem very dark. Thanks Steve for putting this up for all of us. I am not skeptical at all, no one kids about something like this, it’s way too real and important.
I will do what I can to add to the fund.

Meagen Ryan

I’m in. My mom died of cancer seven years ago last Saturday. Even at 34, it’s a big hole in my life. I can’t imagine Antonia and David’s little girls growing up without their mom. Sending money, as well as thoughts and prayers.

Matt Ventura

Social networking has some great advantages. This is one that reaches out to the whole world to help a family get through a difficult journey. I’m in along with my prayers

Katherine M. Harris

I commend this effort and hope that Antonia’s cancer decides to take an unexpected turn and she lives much longer than anyone currently expects.


Thanks everyone for their help…Raised over $1,000 in 1 hour…So impressed with the community…really powerful


Is that $1,000 given + $500 matched, totalling $1,500?
With the matched funds, will GovLoop contribution be $3,750?
What happens to donations exceeding $2,500, will all donations be sent to the Broadwell family?

Don Meador

I hope you don’t mind that I’m pointing a blog post on my personal blog to this page, and to Mr. Broadwell’s post. Thank you for bringing this story to light.

Melissa Fiffer

For the card: My aunt (mom’s twin sister) battled a rare, aggressive cancer for 3 years before passing away in the summer of 2008. During that time she continued living selflessly, and to the fullest. I wish Antonia the same fighting spirit, and all the best to the Broadwell family. I know it’s not easy, but my aunt was a true believer in the Frank Sinatra mantra “the best is yet to come.” Hopefully this will ring true for you in your time of need.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Thank you, everyone!

I just posted an update – as of this morning, the GovLoop community donated $2,500. The GovLoop match is $.50 on the dollar – in this case $1,250. That brings our total donation to $3,750.

@DJValentine – We are planning to give all funds donated by the GovLoop community to the Broadwell family.

Really, really amazing.

Cana Williams

Thanks Steve for putting this together for us and sharing their story. Wonderful things can happen when individual people join together for a cause.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family- may good things come your way from this point forward-The triplets will always have a global family who care for them from afar.

Andrew Krzmarzick

I had a younger brother named Matthew who fought cancer at the age of 22. He was dealt a difficult diagnosis with a high grade, late stage, rare form of leiomyosarcoma in his right lung. Although Matthew did not win his battle, we experienced an incredible outpouring of community support in terms of prayer and direct assistance. It’s hard to find someone whose life is not touched by cancer in some way. And though it’s awful to experience cancer, the chemo and all that’s associated with the disease, it certainly humbles us and draws us together. My prayer is that Antonia will beat this cancer and spend a long life with David and the beautiful triplets. And I also pray that hearing this story continues to give each of us perspective and a renewed sense of purpose to focus on the most important aspects of life.

Pamela Corey

Just sent my donation through PayPal. Thanks for organizing this effort and letting us share in the helping.

Robert Marraro

David, my heart goes out to you and Antonia. I wish I could simply say that my life hasn’t been touched by cancer, but I’ve been the caregiver to a two-time cancer survivor for eight years now. Her name is Rebecca, and she is my fiancee. Her first cancer was ovarian, and she’s currently battling thyroid.

Interestingly enough, my story parallels yours very closely. We were living in the DC area — I was a federal government contactor in records management. Things were going fine until one day out of the blue, the rug was pulled out from under us. At that moment, time stood still and everything as we knew it changed.

Rebecca immediately left to return to her home in Corpus Christi, Texas where she could receive her treatment under the care of her family. We’d only lived in DC for about two years and didn’t have much of a support network, so we didn’t feel comfortable or couldn’t rely on anyone to take care of her like she needed after the surgery and then into treatment. She was Stage IIB — the cancer had spread to the lining of her intestine and liver. During surgery, at the tender age of 30, they performed a total hysterectomy.

What really sucked was the fact that she had no health insurance. For a full month after surgery, she had to find ways to navigate the social service system trying to qualify for indigent health care. In that time, the cancer moved to Stage IV — end stage. Her tumor markers were astromically high — they were supposed to be less than six and were around 45,000. Things didn’t look good.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that this all happened all over Thanksgiving and Christmas 2001? She finally began to receive treatment. Her chemotherapy rounds consisted of five days receiving two drugs for eight hours. The third week would be one drug on one day for two hours. The cycle repeated itself for four long months. It wasn’t until the very end that we began to see results. It was truly a miracle, and we were very blessed. Had things not progressed as they had, we would have been preparing for a funeral instead.

Rebecca never returned to DC. By that time, the contract wasn’t renewed on my job thanks to Congress not passing the budget in a timely fashion and there not being any other jobs I could work at. Because the chances of the cancer returning are greatest within the first three years, Rebecca wanted to be close by her family and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center where she knew she could get the best health-care treatment. I sold the house, packed everything up and moved back to Texas.

That was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life. I have no regrets in that Rebecca has received everything she has needed to save her life. However, life as I knew it has never been the same and never will be. It’s what we affectionately call the “new normal.” When cancer takes over, you roll with the punches and take what comes at you — good, bad or indifferent.

Well, just when we thought we were out of the woods by hitting the five-year mark when the chances of the cancer recurring are less than three percent, Rebecca started feeling ill again. Sure enough after a whole bunch of tests and other back and forth issues, it was determined she had thyroid cancer! Just when we thought it was safe to get back in the water. It turned out being Stage II. She had her thyroid removed along with 50 lymph nodes on the left side of her neck. Fortunately, thanks be to God, the oncologist declared her a miracle because she didn’t require the radiactive iodine to kill the remaining thyroid cells in her body.

Since that time, it’s been touch and go with her having lymph nodes that continue to show that there’s some sign of activity during her sonograms. They have to go in and biopsy them to determine if everything is fine. So far, that’s been the case. So we wait another six months until the next sonogram to check again. And so it goes, on and on … .

Rebecca still suffers from a large number of side effects from the high doeses of chemotherapy she was given during her first cancer treatment — fibromyalgia, neuropathy, cognitive issues, chemobrain, etc. However, like all of us in the “club” say, it’s better to be alive and suffer from these as opposed to the alternative.

Why have I gone into all of this detail and gone on about my situation? Because I wanted to let you know that you’re not alone and not in this fight by yourself — whether it be in DC or in Slovakia. There are a number of resources, support mechanisms and other opportunities that are out there to help you, Antonia and your children get through this together. I can help provide you with some referrals if you’d like.

Plus, there’s always hope. Don’t lose it, no matter how bad things may seem to be. Things can and always will get better. On that you can rely. Don’t ever compare your situation to anyone else. Antonia is her own individual. Her set of circumstances is totally different than anybody else. As such, you need to focus your energies on what it’s going to take to beat this monster and get well again.

Being around family and in familiar surroundings will be a huge help. Most importantly, don’t forget about taking care of yourself as a caregiver. Don’t feel as though you have to play the part of the hero and take all of the burden upon yourself. You can only handle so much. Take time for yourself. Still pursue your interests, find ways to relax and remove yourself from the situation on a daily basis so you can renew and refresh yourself. If you don’t, you’ll not only drive yourself crazy and into the ground very quickly, but you’ll be of very little real help to Antonia.

Lastly, your kids are more perceptive than you think they are. You need to handle this issue as you deem most appropriate, however, don’t hide things from them. Let them feel as though they’re a part of what’s happening and they can contribute to Mommy’s recovery and well being. Rebecca has a six-year-old nephew who unfortunately all to well knows much too much about cancer ever since he was very young not only due to her situation but also because Rebecca’s mother had cancer of the small intestine over the past two years.

May God bless you, Antonia and your family. May He give you the strength you need to fight this disease and to come through it to the other side stronger, healthier and more committed to each other. Don’t let this get the best of you. You’re in it together, side by side. Fight the good fight. Remember that each day is a gift given to us, not something owed automatically as a right. Make the best of the situation and roll with the punches. Antonia will have her good days — celebrate them! She’ll also have her bad days — don’t discount them, encourage her and support her instead! Be that gentle hand and shoulder that provides the support she so desperately needs and will help guide her along this journey.

Please let us know how she’s doing and how things go for you as well. Wishing her a speedy and complete recovery. Take care and best regards!

Matthew Goolsby

Dear David,

I’m really grateful that you asked for assistance. I pray that you will receive the strength and hope that only God can give during this time and that Antonia will also.

There are so many stories of people that I know who’ve had cancer. Some of them have been truly miraculous, others have just been difficult. But, trust that God is with you and Antonia through this and that no matter what happens, He loves you.

Blessings to you.

– Matt Goolsby

Andrea Schneider


There is a person named Drew on Twitter. He got cancer and started a movement called “Blame Drew’s Cancer”. People from all over the world started blaming Drew’s cancer for bad weather, bad days, bad haircuts, etc. It was a great way to handle a bad thing. I do believe he is still working hard on his treatment and working with Livestrong. You might find some humor in his tweets and site, to add another dimension in handling this biggest challenge.

I’ve been debating sharing my own story with cancer. I made a commitment to share my story when appropriate, as a way of bringing hope to difficult situations. Since your story appeared, I want to share a few thoughts with you and your family.

I have had 4 breast cancer diagnosis, the most recent two weeks ago. The most serious one was in 1998 which took me through a full year of treatment, which included a bone marrow transplant, 5 rounds of chemo, two surgeries and radiation. I am always treated at University of California, San Francisco. I am lucky to have one of the best medical teams ever and to be associated with a research hospital.

When I decided on that year of treatment in 1998, I always felt I was a commodities broker. Stats here, stats there. I decided that there are always people who fall into either the positive or negative statistic. So if there was a 70% fatality and 30% survival, I wanted to be in the 30%. After all, someone had to be in that group. Consequently, I braced myself and threw the book at this cancer, which involved over 20 lymph nodes, which is a lot in breast cancer.

I didn’t want to live with any regret, regardless of the outcome. Those decisions helped me a lot to get through a terrible time. Take the positive statistic and live without regret.
I also had a good attitude, humor and an ability to not be a victim in my mind or anyone else’s. I got that too. I threw a garden party and invited all my friends to add a plant to my garden with a stake of good thoughts. I liked doing that activity and it gave me a chance to answer hard questions directly. It worked well for me.

I have had some friends die from cancer and I have friends who survive impossible odds. I am sending every survival vibe I have to Antonia.
I’ve also discovered how easy it is to forget about the caretakers around us. It is a mission of mine to team with caretakers and other survivors, both of us have hard jobs to bring the caretaker story out in the open. Being a patient is very hard and I think it’s hard to be a caretaker too. So take some credit for everything you are doing to help, you are a key member of the team!

Two weeks ago I was really surprised to get another breast cancer diagnosis. This was totally unexpected, as I am checked every six months. It is a new cancer, not a recurrence and is local. So I’m relieved, even though I have to go through chemo and surgery again.
Everyone knows I love Portland, but have quickly put everything in storage and moved to Palo Alto, CA with my family and to be near the hospital. I have never made such a life changing decision so fast. I’m sure you have had many of those moments in your family.

I want to send you and your family a big hug and lots of love. I’m glad you asked and received so much help from the GovLoop community. I love the amazing serendipity of community and feeling bonded with people we’ve never met. Having or dealing with cancer brings the health care debate home fast. It’s so awful to not have the medicine or medical help needed to stay alive. I really wonder where the heart of Congress really is when they are talking about the American public.

I hope you can tell us from time to time how you and Antonia are doing. I’m telling you a bit about my story, because I really didn’t expect to live this long and those few lessons gave me a way to think about hope and survival. I really do think miracles happen.

I hope your new house is wonderful, filled with loving friends and family! Antonia is a very brave woman.


Debra Fitzwater

To the Broadwell Family,
I am one of the lucky few that’s never been touched personally by cancer. I’m sorry that your family has. I really am at a loss for words… I can only say that I’m glad we (The GovLoop Community) could lend the emotional and monetary support in your time of need.
Chin up and bless you all!

Kristina Branstetter

Having a toddler of my own, this call for help and David’s explanation of Antonia’s perspective really hit home with me. Cancer has had blessedly limited impact on my family but as a new mother I find myself asking, “What would I do if?” much more these days. Antonia and David’s story could be anyone’s story – even without the challenge of adorable triplets. Let’s hope we are all so fortunate to find such grace and fellowship should we or our families ever be in such need. My heartfelt wishes to Antonia, David and their children for many more blessings to come.