WI man joins Army to get health insurance for sick wife - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

WI man joins Army to get health insurance for sick wife

Bill Caudle Bill Caudle
Michelle Caudle meets with a doctor Michelle Caudle meets with a doctor

WATERTOWN (WKOW) -- This is a story of heartache, but also hope -- about a man who loves his wife and family so much, he had to leave them to make sure they are taken care of.

Bill and Michelle Caudle of Watertown were high school sweethearts. When Michelle was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, at least they had health insurance through the company where Bill had worked for 20 years. But last spring, that company shut down, and Bill scrambled for months to find a new job.

"It seemed like he put in a resume at some local plants and then the next thing you know they're eliminating a shift, or they just laid off workers," said Michelle.

After Michelle's cancer came back twice, and the family's health insurance premiums tripled... twice... Bill ran out of options. At age 39, he decided that joining the army was the only sure way to get insurance coverage for his wife! Michelle remembers the day at the military base this month, when she watched him leave for four years.

"We knew the day was coming," Michelle said. "But all of a sudden it was here. Reality really hit. They said I probably should have said goodbye to him at home."

With Bill now gone at basic training, Michelle and her doctor want other women to know that 70% of ovarian cancer patients have stage 3 cancer before they get diagnosed because the symptoms are so subtle -- like bloating and feeling full quickly after eating.

"It's just those subtle little symptoms that you can excuse and dismiss," Michelle said. "But while I'm doing that, the cancer is growing."

"Our hope is that through the gynecological oncology group of studies we have, that we will find a better chemo that will get rid of this," said Dr. Peter Johnson at Aurora Women's Pavilion. "That's our goal with this in general is to try to eliminate ovarian cancer."

Michelle knows the odds are against her. But she thinks she'd be a good grandmother.

"When they tell you the cancer is back, I guess you get down a little. A lot. And I want to be here for my kids and see the milestones. Yeah, I want to be a grandma."

15-year old Chelsea knows her dad struggled with the decision.

"I always understood that he had to what he had to do," said Chelsea. "I'd be grateful if my husband did that for me."

The Caudle's 19-year old wrestler and football player son, affectionately called "Little Bill", says he and his dad didn't talk much about the army decision before he left, because they're not 'touchy-feely' kind of guys.

"That's the one thing we said. We just shook hands and he said "just please take care of your mom," said Little Bill.

But now that his dad is gone, "Little Bill" realized there was something important he had to say... in a letter.

"I wrote him my first letter yesterday. I told him what I never really told him, but that he's my hero. I just never told him because it's just tough."

"At least for me, I have the kids all here to help keep me going," said Michelle. "I think sometimes it might be harder for him being all alone."

The Caudle family hopes bill can come home briefly around Christmastime, when he's out of basic training.

If you would like to contact the family you can go to any Associated Bank branch in Wisconsin and donate to the 'Michelle Caudle Benefit Trust.'

You can also send cards to: P.O. Box 106 Watertown, WI 53094

This story was written by Mike Miller from our affiliate WISN in Milwaukee.


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