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Help Vanessa Beat Cancer

Cause page created in the Health category by Narelle Ahrens for Vanessa Harris

$59,947 of $85,000 goal
Given by 447 generous donors in around 6 months

Vanessa has aggressive stage 3 Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She needs an unfunded drug to beat it and live to raise her two little children.

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In November last year Vanessa developed rapidly concerning symptoms that were difficult to diagnose. After 4 months and just after her 36th birthday, she was diagnosed with aggressive stage 3 Inflammatory Breast Cancer. During those 4 months the cancer had spread to her axillary lymph nodes. Her oncologist told her that her cancer was very large, it was inoperable, and could be very difficult to shrink.

As the country went into level 4 lockdown she underwent 3 months of chemotherapy (doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide) whilst homeschooling and caring for her beautiful 4yr old daughter and 8yr old son. None of her family could be in her bubble to help at the time, and her husband couldn’t even go with her to the hospital during treatment. With the first 4 cycles of chemotherapy and minimal response, and with no private health insurance, her oncologist recommended she try to find $34,000 to add an unfunded drug, Perjeta, into the next regime of Herceptin and Paclitaxel. It was her best chance to shrink the cancer to allow for surgery.

Vanessa and Matt struggled to scrape together the money needed but was supported by money from family, friends, and a fundraiser concert to fund the extra drug. Thankfully, the drug seemed to work and results after her mastectomy showed her cancer had shrunk by 95%. Unfortunately, surgery revealed that two lymph nodes that were removed, still had deposits of cancer in them. Her oncologist has told her that, as a result, there is still a chance of the cancer returning and if it does, it could be incurable.

Vanessa is currently undergoing radiotherapy and will have more Herceptin but her best chance now to beat the cancer properly and prevent it re-occuring, is to switch from Herceptin to a recommended drug that's not currently funded for residual cancer, called Kadcyla costing $85,000. Their hope now is to find a way to raise money to help pay for the drug in order to better secure Vanessa’s future.

Our little sister is the most beautiful person. Kind, generous, and strong. Never one to draw attention to herself, but quietly taking care of everyone around her. When she worked as a pharmacy technician, she would deliver medicines out of hours to the elderly and terminal patients, sitting with them when they were lonely or afraid. Now she is that mum who's always ready to support others, whether its a meal for someone in need, or someone just to listen. She is one of those incredible mums who would do anything for her children, and who gives her heart, energy and sunshine to all the communities around her. She is the glue that holds her family together.

Asking for support is not in Vanessa or Matt’s nature. They have shown such strength this year, coping quietly amid uncertain times and knowing that so many people are finding life tough right now. But they can’t do this next bit alone, so we are asking for help on their behalf. If you can, please help her keep on being the incredible Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Friend that she is to all of us.

Narelle Ahrens' involvement (page creator)

Narelle Ahrens & Demelza Campbell

We are Vanessa’s sisters. We love her beyond words and would do anything to help her get through this.

Use of funds

The funds will help cover the costs of the unfunded medical drug Kadcyla from Pharmac.

Latest update

Sad News  26 March 2021

Posted by: Narelle Ahrens

Hi everyone, we had hoped that the last update was to be the final one as we only kept the page open to support Vanessa’s successful recovery, however, two weeks ago we were given unfortunate news. During follow-up tests for Vanessa’s treatment the cancer was discovered having travelled to her brain.

The cancer is widespread and numerous meaning it is not immediately operable – the best treatment is radiation therapy which can delay or reduce the rate of growth, but cannot destroy it, meaning that there is no cure.

Suffice to say that Vanessa, her family, and ourselves are completely devastated and surprised by the suddenness of this news and it’s unimaginable outcome, especially given all the positivity following her treatment that had been undertaken so strenuously to prevent such an eventuality. In fact, Vanessa would once again like to personally thank everyone from the bottom of her heart for your amazing contributions, without which she could never have accessed the preventative drug Kadcyla. By being able to start the Kadcyla early she’s been able to have the gift of more time with her family to this point.

We are now committed to whatever is needed in order to extend Vanessa’s life for as long as possible and we are actively pursuing all options. At the least, Vanessa’s current treatment has kept the cancer from spreading anywhere else in her body. We are also being advised of new treatments from overseas that could possibly help prolong or even save her life which we will be following up, despite excessive costs involved.

With all this in mind, we are now hoping to continue to keep this page open in anticipation of at least achieving our original funding goal. Any further donations towards this final tally will all gratefully contribute towards the quality and longevity of Vanessa’s life and her ability to take advantage of any time remaining to be with us and her young family for as long as humanly possible.

We are beyond sorry to have to share this news with all of you. We want to thank you all again for all your kindness and love and support, and wish you all wellness and happiness.

Take care, lots of love Vanessa, Matt, Narelle, Demelza, and all our families xxxx

Read 6 more updates  |  Share this update

Latest donations

Phillippa on 11 Apr 2021
Maureen on 10 Apr 2021
Sending Aroha to you all may the time you have be blessed with special moments to make lasting memories. Kia ka ha & blessings Maureen
Hannah on 07 Apr 2021
Guest Donor
Guest Donor on 06 Apr 2021
Jeanette on 31 Mar 2021

Who's involved?

Narelle Ahrens's avatar
Created by Narelle Ahrens
Vanessa Harris's avatar
Paying to a verified bank account of Vanessa Harris

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This page was created on 8 Nov 2020 and closes on 26 Sep 2021.
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