I need to raise funds to pay for treatment for metastatic colon cancer.
A few weeks ago I learned that my cancer has recurred as "stage IV metastatic cancer." A recent scan showed cancer in the ovary, peritoneum, and small intestine. This comes with good news and bad news. The good news is that overall I feel quite positive and at peace. The bad news is that the New Zealand healthcare system does not fund many of the cancer drugs included in the international standard of care for metastatic cancer. These must be self-funded, to the tune of several tens of thousands of dollars. I feel positive, and peaceful, but poor.
My treatment plan includes FOLFIRI + Avastin (bevacuzimab) first, and then FOLFIRI + cetuximab. Unfortunately the New Zealand public health system does not cover bevacuzimab and cetuximab. I am therefore going to have to self-fund these two drugs. The costs are very steep. They are $40,739 NZD for 12 cycles of bevacuzimab (6 months) and $44,989 NZD for 12 cycles of cetuximab (6 months). Altogether this would be $85,728 NZD ($57,626 USD with current exchange rates). Apparently the drug companies offer a "deal" whereby after cancer patients pay high prices for the first several treatments, the subsequent treatments are "free" ("forever," for bevacuzimab, though apparently it tends to stop working after a period of time, or for the remainder of a 12-month period for cetuximab).
I have hated fundraising ever since I had to go door-to-door selling Christmas wrapping paper and magazine subscriptions in primary school. Nevertheless, Joseph and I do not have the financial reserves to meet these medical expenses, and I need to ask for help. I very much want to stick around as long as possible to be my kids' mother. I am determined to beat the odds. I recently joined a new Facebook group called “Colontown” (ha ha), and have been buoyed up by community members’ reports of overcoming their stage IV disease. I am committed to seeking the best medical care possible.
Because my medical situation is fluid, it is possible that I might use funds raised not only for these two drugs, but also for other medical expenses, to seek treatments overseas that are not available in New Zealand (such as new clinical trials, etc.), and to help meet my family’s expenses during this time.”
Any amount of donation would be so appreciated. I love how, through the power of people acting together, a little becomes a lot. Thank you.
Money will be spent on drugs that the NZ public system doesn't fund, other medical expenses including possibly seeking treatments overseas, and meeting the family's expenses during this time.
Post-HIPEC Hello! 28 February 2020
Dear friends, hello!
On Monday evening I looked at my phone and saw a message from Intermountain Healthcare. Oh shoot! I thought. I missed my oncology appointment! I have gotten out of the habit of feeling cancerous and totally forgot about it.
It is just over a month since my HIPEC surgery. The surgery itself was easy, because I was asleep. Probably the two most unpleasant things about the entire experience and hospital stay were:
1) I had a super, super dry mouth on Day 1 and Day 2 of recovery, because of the various drugs and because I wasn't allowed to drink water because sometimes when patients get water into their stomachs post surgery they vomit and this is bad because your abdomen is being held together with staples. No vomiting for me! But, no water.
2) I had a fit of coughing somewhere around Day 4. It hurt my stomach. I ran out into the hallway and got the nurses to tighten the binder around my stomach.
I felt super normal and was out of the hospital after about six days but then on Day 10, I think it was, I had a horrible back spasm that was kind of like being in labor. My uncle who is a doctor thinks it was an electrolyte imbalance which can create severe cramps. Anyway it was the most horrible pain of my life, ever (ironically having nothing to do with just having been partially eviscerated) but then they gave me morphine and that was awesome.
But it was just that one day. (That one morning, actually.) After that life was normal, except that I was fifteen pounds (about 7 kg) lighter (tumour, plus fluids, plus fat lost over the course of months and months of being full of fluids).
None of my clothes fit, so I had the choice of either buying new clothes or eating ice cream. Of course, the correct choice here is "eating ice cream." This is working really nicely!
All this is to say that a month after my surgery I feel completely fine, SO much lighter, and so much more comfortable! Before, when I walked up two flights of stairs, I would feel not just winded, but as if there wasn't enough. (There definitely wasn't, because two days before my surgery they took 2 liters out of my plural space.) Now it is no problem.
In the best case scenario I have been cured of this cancer. In the worst scenario they have mowed the grass super low. In either scenario I am so very grateful to have gotten my body, my breath, and my life back.
All of this was able to happen because you kindly gave my family and me the support we needed to relocate to a place where I could get treatment, and this surgery. I am so very grateful. I think about how close together are life's contrasts of pain and comfort, suffering and cheer. I don't understand them but I know that both of them are real and meaningful.
I feel indebted to so many people, but this debt feels not like a burden, but like a source of richness. Thank you for your kindness, your generosity, and your faith in me. Thank you, thank you!