Former Airship Ventures employee loved her work
Pamela Wright lost job, insurance shortly after being diagnosed with cancer
Over the last few weeks, friends of former Airship Ventures employee Pamela Wright rallied to raise money for the cancer treatment that was supposed to prolong her life.
But with an immune system weakened from three chemotherapy treatments, Wright died on Saturday from a case of double pneumonia. She was 57.
Wright worked at Mountain View's Airship Ventures for four years, organizing special events and parties aboard Zeppelin Eureka, when she was diagnosed with plasma cell leukemia last year. When the company folded and sent Eureka in pieces back to Germany late last year, Wright lost her income and her health insurance. Healthcare bills began piling up, to the tune of $15,000, when her friend Joanne Fedeyko decided to step in, setting up a fundraising page for Pam's medical expenses on indiegogo.com.
"I have experience in fundraising and she's a dear friend," explained Fedeyko, a former coworker of Pam's at Airship Ventures, a week before her death. "For Pam, Airship Ventures was really like her family. She liked her job there and was upbeat and happy. She just gave her heart and soul to that company."
In an interview with the Voice last week, Wright said doctors had given her a year and a half to live. She was getting ready for a bone marrow transplant and was planning to start her own event planning business.
"I have so much support it's just incredible," Wright said. "If you really want to know who your friends are — the people who love you — get sick."
She said she had been feeling overwhelmed by financial burdens and felt conflicted about asking for help.
"It's a lot to deal with — MediCal, the hospital — it's just really tough," she said. "It feels like you have no control, it feels like you are deprived of your independence. I feel like these are my bills and I want to take care of it myself. But my girlfriends encouraged me to get help or I wouldn't have done it."
Fedeyko said the experience made her question the healthcare system in the United States.
"I'm from Canada — my sister went through cancer treatment there and didn't have to pay a dime," Fedeyko said. "That is a huge relief when going something like that, the last thing you need to worry about is your finances."
Wright's older brother, William Hicks, said the fundraiser for his sister's cancer treatment "was just one of the best things that could happen to Pamela. I just thank God for people like Joanne."
"I can remember Pam as a person that loved people," said Hicks, adding that she was ambitious, and a great communicator for whom "nothing was too insurmountable. Anyone that knew Pam would just fall in love with her. She had a magnetic personality. She was concerned about people's lives.
"I am gonna miss talking to her. It's hard, it really is," he said. "I know she is not only a better place, but the best place. No more sorrow, no more pain, no more hurt."
Wright had said she enjoyed organizing birthday parties and weddings aboard Eureka.
"It was so important that every experience was special and I made sure every one was," Wright said. "That was what I liked so much about it, that every experience was not the same."
Even though she loved her job, she admitted, "I was feeling like a workaholic." She called her illness a chance to "take a second look at life."
She is survived by three sons and six grandchildren.
"I've been spending a lot of time with my grandkids, so that's been helpful," she said shortly before her death.
On the page once used to raise money for Wright's medical expenses, Fedeyko is now trying to raise $10,000 by March 8 to help Wright's family give her "the burial she deserves."
"Pam's desire was to be buried and while it is expensive, we hope that everyone can contribute to fulfill on her final wish," Fedeyko writes.
As of Tuesday, more than $6,000 was still needed for her burial. To donate, visit www.indiegogo.com
Email Daniel DeBolt at email@example.com