Penn Yan graduate Sarah Harling didn’t qualify for Family Medical Leave benefits in her new job when she was diagnosed, and her insurance carries an exceptionally high deductible since she was previously healthy, so friends have started a Go Fund Me campaign.

Sarah Harling, 26 years old, just starting a new job in a field she is passionate about, and enjoying the freedom of a new young professional, should be a person others envy. Younger people look at her example to emulate, and older people recall that energy and joy with great nostalgia.

But Sarah was just diagnosed in January with grade 3 Invasive Mammary Carcinoma – and now that envy has become a horrified sympathy.

With no family history of cancer, it was only by her self-examination that Sarah discovered the lump in her breast. That discovery has now created a new reality for Sarah to face; 16 weeks of chemotherapy in 2-week increments at the Elizabeth Wende Breast Center in Rochester, and the devastating out of pocket costs that the treatment will incur.

“I recently accepted a promotion at a nonprofit organization called Epilepsy Pralid as a Fiscal Intermediary,” says Sarah. “Because I was so recently employed by this organization, I do not yet qualify for Family and Medical Leave Act  benefits.” As a first time insurance buyer and previously healthy individual, Sarah has an exceptionally high deductible: $6,500 in network and $13,000 out of network. And that $20,500 is only for the treatments.

Sarah started chemotherapy Friday, Feb. 7 and will continue the 16-week regimen, along with several other expensive cancer related medications. After finishing chemotherapy, she will undergoing surgeries for lumpectomy and and lymphadenectomy,  and then faces radiation therapy.

Sarah is a 2010 graduate of Penn Yan Academy, and her mother, Patti Harling, has been a language teacher at Penn Yan for  the last 21 years. It is upon this wide and caring network of friends in the community they now appeal to for help.

With bills already piling up, Sarah and Patti are asking for the community’s help in making her transition into recovery as smooth as possible. “At such a young age it is extremely rare to have such an aggressive form of breast cancer,” says Sarah, “and this has been an incredibly emotional time for both myself and my family. Any donation would truly be a blessing, and I want you all to know that I appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this immensely difficult time.”

As of Tuesday, $12,793 of the $20,000 goal has been raised by 237 people in 12 days. You can add your donation by searching for Sarah Harling at

While Patti was there for the first of Sarah’s treatments, a long planned school trip to Japan required her to leave within the week. The organization and anticipation of the trip was too important for Patti to disappoint her students or to hand off to anyone else, even in the face of this devastating news for her daughter and the illness she will suffer during treatment. Sarah also has her father Maurice, and her three younger sisters to lean on, so the family decided Patti must go on with the trip.

The Elizabeth Wende Breast Center has been serving the greater Rochester area since 1975. As the first dedicated breast clinic in the United States, EWBC is a committed leader in the field of breast imaging and breast cancer diagnosis.