New Yorker Jay Kallio was given six months to a year to live after a lung cancer diagnosis in January 2015. As the cancer sapped all of Kallio’s strength, his apartment in Chelsea fell into disrepair. Four months after his diagnosis, the 59-year-old transgender man found some solace in the Facebook group Queer Exchange, where he announced he was giving away his possessions ahead of his death, according to DNAinfo. Then, a miracle happened.
One Kind Soul
Ella Grasch, 36, came to Kallio’s apartment to pick up some soap that he could no longer use due to skin issues. Kallio did not want Grasch to see his living conditions, but when she found out the man’s toilet didn’t work and he was living in the dark, Grasch asked permission to post about the situation on the Facebook group. Interest in Kallio’s case grew quickly.
“A doctor diagnosed him with ‘very aggressive’ breast cancer that needed immediate treatment.”
Dozens of offers of assistance came pouring in for Kallio. One person got in touch with the city of New York, and someone inspected the premises to initiate repairs. An online fundraiser brought in more than $6,000 to help with pain medication, food and supplies. Even more than the money, Kallio says he finds the emotional support “gratifying.”
Not First Diagnosis
Kallio’s struggles with terminal lung cancer are not his first experience with this debilitating disease. A doctor diagnosed him with “very aggressive” breast cancer that needed immediate treatment, notes Huffington Post. Unfortunately, the doctor did not relay the diagnosis in a timely manner. Kallio felt as if his transgender status affected the doctor’s judgment, even though the medical center sits in the heart of liberal New York City.
Since then, Kallio has taken up the mantle of equal rights for transgender persons with regard to medical care, even as he fights his own battle against terminal lung cancer. The second time around, Kallio has found “very loving” caregivers who oversee his day-to-day care regimen.