Harris County commissioners spare job of woman battling cancer

December 18, 2012 6:02:27 PM PST
A woman who's worked for Harris County for more than 20 years is suffering from cancer and is too sick to go to work. Her family claims the county had threatened to fire her, but now she's getting support from the county and the commissioners.

It's a situation that could happen to anyone. Luckily, this woman had family, friends and strangers who care very deeply about her.

Emilio Trevino's voice breaks as he introduces Harris County commissioners to his mother, Francis Thurman.

"I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare type of breast cancer," she told commissioners.

Francis is currently undergoing an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. She can't eat, she can't drive and she can't work.

"At a certain point, you don't want to do chemo anymore," she said. "You get sick, you're nauseated and you're hungry but you can't eat."

Francis has worked here at the county's voter registrar's office for 23 years. But she just learned she could lose her job for taking too many sick days. She was told she had four days to come back or she would lose her job and health insurance.

"My mother is a fighter and responsible employee," Emilio told commissioners.

Francis' son and her co-workers went to Commissioners Court Tuesday to plead with count leaders to give her the time she needs to recover. And Team Francis got what it came for.

"You know, we're family," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said. "For the tax assessor, right before Christmas, to say in four days you're terminated, that's just not appropriate."

County officials promised to work with Francis and look into changing policies to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else.

"I feel so blessed and I would like to encourage others that don't give up. Just reach out, and if someone doesn't reach back, keep reaching, keep reaching," Francis told us.

Now the county hasn't come up with specific plans to deal with this situation but Francis says just knowing that they're working on it gives her relief. She says knowing that will make it easier for her to get through treatment.


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