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Long Life For Lauren

Cause page created in the Health category by Carla McBeth for "Vanessa and Kevin's daughter Lauren Russo"

$65,846 donated
Given by 396 generous donors in 10 weeks

20 year old Lauren has been diagnosed with Stage 3B Melanoma and needs assistance to pay for her treatment

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  Bay of Plenty

This is my kind, caring, thoughtful, humble and beautiful, 20-year-old niece Lauren, in 2020 (one of the most difficult years for all of us) just one month after her beloved grandmother passed away and while still grieving, Lauren was diagnosed with Stage 3B Melanoma cancer.

Up until the diagnosis, Lauren was a happy healthy 20-year-old with an enormous love for animals, particularly horses. About 2 years ago, Lauren noticed a mole on her calf that was irritating her. She visited both GPs and skin clinics over the 2 years to get it checked however due to her age and fitness they conducted manual checks only (no biopsy).

In late 2020 after continued irritation about the mole which had now grown in size and was at times bleeding, Lauren visited a family friend, who was a skin doctor, for another opinion. The family friend recommended removal of the mole and after testing the mole post procedure, it was discovered that Lauren had Melanoma.

Since then, Lauren has endured additional surgery, which found the cancer to have spread to her lymph nodes and is now at a crossroads with the next stages of her treatment. In NZ the treatment her specialists advise is the best option to provide Lauren with the greatest chance of survival and a significant reduction in the risk of recurrence, is not covered by the public health system for Lauren’s stage of cancer. It only becomes funded at Stage 4, at the bottom of the cliff, and even then Pharmac are sporadic with their funding. Common places for the cancer to spread to in Stage 4 after spreading beyond the lymph nodes, is the lungs, kidneys, bone and brain.

In NZ we have the highest melanoma incidence rate in the world and in recent years more people have died from melanoma than on the roads. Yet a lack of funding and recognition, means there is a gap in the NZ health system which could literally mean life or death for Lauren. In order to give Lauren the best chance of survival, she needs to undergo Immunotherapy treatment. It involves 17 rounds of infusions of a drug called Keytruda, that is especially effective for melanoma. Keytruda works with the immune system to help find and destroy cancer cells. The treatment is over the period of 12 months and is done 3 weekly, with various doctor reviews and scans along the way. This treatment costs over $110,000NZD per year and that is just for the medication (this amount does not cover all of the additional medical costs that come along with the treatment). For a family of 6, this enormous financial burden is putting a high amount of stress on Lauren’s parents and extended family and for this reason we are reaching out to the amazing Give a Little community for help.

Being the humble, considerate person she is, Lauren has been hesitant with reaching out for financial help, which is why we have decided to take the step to reach out for her.

In addition to your amazing financial support, one of the other key reasons we started this fundraiser is to provide awareness to the NZ public on the gaps in the NZ public health care system related to melanoma cancer treatment. Until Lauren started on this journey, we were all under the impression that all non-trial cancer treatment was covered by the NZ health system (as it is in Australia and the UK) however this has proven to not be the case. In addition to fighting the battle of her life, Lauren and our family will also be petitioning the Government to close this gap and save more New Zealand cancer patient lives. Any support you can provide Lauren as she embarks on this long hard road would be hugely appreciated – Spread the word!

Thank you so much for reading this and any contribution you have been able to provide is hugely appreciated by Lauren and her entire family.

Carla McBeth's involvement (page creator)

I am Lauren's Aunty and really want to help in everyway I can to make sure she gets the treatment she needs

Use of funds

The funds will contribute to the high cost treatment Lauren requires

Latest update

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Quick Update  28 May 2021

Posted by: Kevin and Vanessa Russo

Hi everyone!

I thought I would do a very quick update as to how things are going! I had my third treatment on the 17th May, which all went well, I am starting to have some more side effects but nothing too serious :)

Luckily my treatment team agreed to push this treatment back, as the original date was scheduled for the day of my 21st Birthday. I was very very lucky to be able to able to get away for a week down South on a surprise trip that was planned before we realized what the future would hold.. It was great to get away from appointments and treatments for a bit! This infusion was actually sponsored by Errol Newlands and the Charity Golf Day. I am extremely grateful to Errol and his trustees for their generous assistance, they help so many people and are truly wonderful.

Again, I would like to express my sincere and immense gratitude for all your support. I can never thank everyone enough, it is just incredible how much has been raised and the generosity of so many people. I am so humbled and overwhelmed.

I will continue to keep everyone updated. As much as this experience is difficult, I am so lucky in so many ways to have such amazing people behind me and to be able to access this treatment.

Not such a short update in the end but much love to you all- Lauren

Read 1 more update  |  Share this update

Latest donations

Mark 3 days ago
Scott 5 days ago
Laura on 06 Jun 2021
Anth, Trev and the girls
Anth, Trev and the girls on 05 Jun 2021
Sending our love.
Guest Donor
Guest Donor on 30 May 2021
Kevin and Vanessa Russo

Thank you so much for your kind donation! ☺️

Kevin and Vanessa Russo

Who's involved?

Carla McBeth's avatar
Created by Carla McBeth
Kevin and Vanessa Russo's avatar
Paying to a verified bank account of Kevin and Vanessa Russo on behalf of Vanessa and Kevin's daughter Lauren Russo

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This page was created on 5 Apr 2021 and closes on 30 Mar 2022.
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