By Ross Markman
After learning that his 27-year-old wife, Brittnee, would have to travel to Portland, Ore., next month to undergo surgery for carcinoid cancer, Havre resident Oscar DeLaRosa never asked for anyone's help.
He didn't have to.
His co-workers didn't need or wait to be asked.
Oscar, a 34-year-old sewer worker for the Havre City Shop, has only been at his job for three months and has yet to accrue sick time. That's where guys like Joe Chamberlain, Clarence Doney and Matt Pozega plan to step in and donate hours to Oscar, so he can afford to be with his wife in Portland.
"Most of us will probably donate," Chamberlain said. "It's a good deal. You never know when you're going to need it."
Oscar is thankful for such generosity.
"This whole thing kind of shocked me. When I heard about it, I was pretty pleased. I didn't bring this up, but whoever did, I want to thank them," he said. "It was to the point where she has to have this surgery and it's kind of hard to live without a paycheck."
Without the donated sick time, Oscar would be forced to take time off without pay, something that would crunch the DeLaRosas financially. The couple recently moved back to Havre from North Dakota and are the parents of a 16-month-old son, Austin.
Fortunately for the DeLaRosas, Brittnee has health insurance benefits from her job as a front end supervisor at Gary & Leo's IGA.
"(The donated hours) help a lot with the idea of finances. I wasn't expecting it," said Brittnee, who was born and raised in Havre. "It's nice to see that the Havre community shows this kind of support, that people still care about people in this town."
Like her husband, Brittnee has only been at her for three months, accumulating no sick time.
"And I don't know how long I'll be out," she added.
Brittnee's cancer was first discovered in November, just around Thanksgiving. Doctors found two tumors, one inside her appendix, one outside. They removed her appendix with the hopes that the cancer didn't spread to other areas of her body.
Brittnee underwent a test revealing that it hadn't. But still, the trip to Portland is necessary to for a surgical procedure to ensure that Brittnee is cancer-free.
The DeLaRosas leave Friday. Oscar hopes to return to Havre a week later.
"I always think confidence," he said.
Brittnee is likewise looking forward to defeating the disease and moving on with her life.
"I'm doing fine. I think I'm going to be OK. The scariest thing is that I have a 16-month-old son," she said.
"My family has dealt with cancer in the last year," she added, noting that her grandmother recently died of lung cancer and her aunt has breast cancer. "It could be a lot worse. My chances of living are pretty high."
Oscar is encouraged by his wife's spirit.
"Even though we're sort of in the dark right now, she's actually feeling really good," he said. "I know she's dealing with it a lot better than I would."