CREATED Feb. 27, 2014
There's a saying: Live every day like it's your last. A Caldwell family is being forced to do just that. A young mother and daughter, both with terminal illnesses, are fighting a broken health care system.
Eight-year-old Kayla Cox loves to play with her big sister. Even though other people may see Elizabeth as a special needs child, Kayla simply calls her "awesome."
Elizabeth was born with an englarged heart and spent the first year of her life in the hospital.
Finally, at three years old, doctors diagnosed Elizabeth with an extremely rare condition called Alstrom Syndrome. Only eight hundred people worldwide suffer from the genetic disorder. Alstrom affects every major organ in the eleven-year-old's body.
There is no cure, just treating the symptoms and waiting for the inevitable.
As a mother, Aimee Cox's emotions are amplified as she struggles with her own rare diagnosis. She, too, is dying.
"My body aches like someone has taken a hammer and pounded every bone in my body," says Aimee.
Over the last couple of years, Aimee's digestive system started shutting down. Today her insides, from her esophagus all the way to her rectum, are paralyzed. At 33, Aimee is literally wasting away.
Doctors give her only a couple of months to live.
There's no common link between the pair's conditions, expect now both mother and daughter need hospice. And the medical bills pile up. James has a job with insurance, but it doesn't cover everything. So Aimee applied for medicaid, only to be told her husband makes just enough not to qualify.
The government's answer? Get a divorce.
"Excuse me, did you really just say that to me?" says Aimee. "I haven't been married for twelve years just to divorce my husband who's stayed with me and who could have left a long time ago, who just will not, " she continues.
The Cox's say their wedding vows, for better or worse, in sickness and health, have taken on a whole new meaning. They will not allow bureaucracy to break them apart.