Heather Holland was a beloved second-grade teacher, and her death last week from complications from the flu has rocked the tight-knit community of Weatherford, Texas.
The 38-year-old was prescribed medication to fight the virus, but when the copay rang up at $116, she decided it wasn’t worth it, according to a report from the Weatherford Democrat. Holland is survived by her husband Frank Holland, a 10-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son.
“I have to be strong for the kids, but it’s still surreal; it hasn’t all set in,” Frank Holland told the Weatherford Democrat. “We’ve been together a long time, over half my life. She’s my best friend, my soulmate, my everything.”
“It hasn’t set in with them yet either,” he said of the couple’s children.
Frank Holland purchased the medication himself when he found out his wife had opted to go without, but her symptoms continued to worsen.
“Friday night, things escalated, and she ended up in the ICU,” Frank Holland said. “The doctors got the blood cultures back, and they had to put her on dialysis early Saturday.”
He recalled that his wife started feeling ill last Monday but still went to work. By Wednesday, she was diagnosed with Influenza-B and developed pneumonia. When her condition didn’t improve, she was admitted to Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth on Friday. She died there Sunday morning.
“She wouldn’t go get medicine because she’s a mama. Mama’s are tough. She just kept going. She had a job; she had kids,” Holland’s pastor, Clark Bosher, told Fox4. “I think any mom does that. I don’t think she is being irresponsible. I don’t think she thought she was that sick. It happened so quick.”
Holland taught at Ikard Elementary School for four years and was on the verge of completing her master’s degree. Her husband described her as a passionate teacher.
Fox News reports that on the school’s website, Holland had recently posted a message that read: “We have been learning a lot. I am really enjoying my kiddos. We are working hard on reading, writing and learning to quickly compose and decompose numbers.”
It has been a particularly brutal flu season in Texas and across the nation, and The Weatherford school district has taken extra sanitation measures to address the threat.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said on Friday that as of late January, 2,897 people were reported to have died of pneumonia or influenza in the state since the beginning of October, according to the Weatherford Democrat.