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'Shutdown angels' pay furloughed Navy veteran's chemotherapy bills

After Quashawn Latimer was caught up in the government closure, she had to decide whether to pay her rent or get her cancer treatment. Then a miracle happened.

Quashawn Latimer was forced to choose between her chemotherapy and her rent, thanks to the government shutdown, but "perfect strangers" made sure the Navy veteran didn't have to worry about either.

"Humanity still exists!" a relieved and exuberant Latimer, a mother of three who works for the Department of Treasury, told NBC News on Wednesday.

The 43-year-old Maryland woman. who is battling stage 2 breast cancer, had an appointment Monday to undergo her final treatment, so she was surprised when she got a call from the hospital administrator Jan. 24. She was even more astonished at what the administrator told her.

"A stranger just called and he zeroed out your balance. He took care of your account. All of it," Latimer recalled the administrator saying. "I was overwhelmed. I was literally in tears. It was an amazing moment."

Federal worker Quashawn Latimer who is fighting cancer is counting her blessings after strangers paid her medical bills and rent for February.
Federal worker Quashawn Latimer who is fighting cancer is counting her blessings after strangers paid her medical bills and rent for February.MSNBC

The donor — an Oregon resident who asked to remain anonymous — made the big-hearted gesture after Latimer's story, which she shared with MSNBC's Mariana Atencio, was aired Jan. 22.

"I can't negotiate with my chemo. That has to happen. If it's the chemo or the rent, chemo wins," she said then. "Worst case scenario, we lose our home."

Now, she doesn't have to worry about that either — another good Samaritan paid the family's February rent."That was amazing to me," she said. That person tracked down Latimer through a legislator from Virginia.

"It is blessings, and it is a bright side to this, and I thank God for it," Latimer told NBC Washington, which first reported her good news.

The Millersville woman still had health insurance during the shutdown, but it didn't cover all the costs associated with her cancer treatment.

"Putting cancer in your budget is unexpected," she told MSNBC — as was the 35-day government shutdown that affected Latimer and more than 800,000 federal employees and an estimated 1.2 million contract workers.

She said she was relieved when President Donald Trump announced a temporary deal ending the shutdown Friday.

"It was a very scary moment for me, having to make a choice between what I'm not going to pay to keep me healthy," she said.

While her angels reaffirmed her belief in humanity, Latimer doesn't have much faith in the government, however. She worries she can find herself caught in another shutdown come Feb. 15, when the current deal expires.

"I'm still apprehensive," she said. "I'm taking it day by day, trying to move forward."

But Latimer said what she's feeling most of all now is gratitude.

"I just want to thank all of the people that helped," she said. "I thank everybody!"