3rd Time is a Charm: Emily's Cancer

$34,734 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 348 people in 17 months
UPDATE 2/27/17: My cancer is spreading and my prognosis has changed to the cancer being in my bloodstream. They are unable to give me a percentage or timeframe, but I will be on some kind of chemo until my body can't take it anymore or it stops working on the cancer. Please see the latest details under the most recent "update" on this page.

Cancer hits lots of individuals and families these days. Sometimes it goes away with treatments and surgery, and sometimes it doesn’t. 

Getting the news that you have cancer AGAIN really sucks. Unfortunately for me, the doctors have discovered that I have colon cancer AGAIN, for the third time in six years. Most people say that I am too young to get colon cancer; yet, here I am, battling once more.

And just when I felt that my life was getting back to normal! To say this is inconvenient and annoying is putting it lightly. My usual Wonder Woman self has been put to the test again to try to work while dealing with this news and the physical issues I am having, but I learned from last time that I cannot do it all.


Since my last time with cancer a couple of years ago, I have have been blessed by opportunities to do so many things. Besides teaching at EnCompass Academy (formerly Rainshadow) and being a part of saving the school from closing, I was able to do a TED Talk, run a grass-roots campaign for our local school board as a candidate, and become the editor of the new Bliss Babe Magazine. Having everything come to a halt after building my life into something of a dream, I am struggling to remain energetic and optimistic. I have to take care of myself, though, and I do know that I am strong. I just can't keep up and be able to fight off Crusty. (Yes, I named my tumor. Would you expect anything less from me?)

So as of the week of September 1, 2016, I have gone on an indefinite leave of absence.

This means no paycheck at all after my last one at the end of September. My gracious employers and school board at EnCompass Academy are going to keep me on insurance through January, but it will need to be reviewed after that.

I still don’t know if I will need chemo after my surgery on September 14th, but I am guessing I will have to. It is chemo that I dread more than anything, because it drains me and keeps me from living a normal life. (UPDATE: They have canceled future surgeries.)

Working during this time as a teacher is out of the question. I am going to try to pick up money here and there with my writing and editing skills, but that won’t be enough to pay the bills and keep me in my home. My Three Little Birds, Maddie, Kate and Thomas, want me to be comfortable and with very little worry, and so I am going to have to ask for help from you all.


The support and love that I feel from all over the world is humbling and amazing to me. Those of you who live in town will be able to help in tangible ways, and I am already grateful for all of you.

So, here are my needs: I am planning on trying to raise enough money for seven months, assuming that many of those months will entail chemo of some sort. I need to replace my salary loss, which is about $2500 per month. 

God bless teachers for doing a tough job for not enough pay.

I will also likely lose my insurance after the first of the year, so I am either going to need to try to cobra, try to qualify for medicaid (which teachers are often denied and you have to fight it), or find some kind of private insurance. So…I need to plan for that from a financial standpoint.

Hopefully there won’t be any other unforeseen costs during this time, but just to be safe, I will make my goal for the next seven months to raise $25,000 dollars. Update: I am raising the amount to $50,000 from the original amount. 

This might seem like a huge amount, but I know tons of people, and if just 500 of my friends and family give $100 each, it’s totally doable. 

So, do you think you can help? I will keep everyone updated like I usually do with my transparent journey on social media, and do what I can to impact others through my experiences. 

Please spread the word. If I’ve learned anything during these three journeys with cancer, it is to set aside pride and ask for help. All of you are such beautiful people, and any amount you can give will be deeply appreciated by me and my genuinely amazing three teens.

Please contact me through this GoFundMe site if you have any questions at all. I want to be completely above board regarding my finances and will be a good steward of your generosity. 


Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily, Maddie, Kate and Thomas
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Now that my kids know the details of my last CT scan and conversation with my doctor, I can make an announcement to the world. What you’re going to hear is not what anyone would expect, so be warned.

I have two new lung nodules that are cancerous besides the three that are already there. This new discovery has changed my diagnosis and future plans. My oncologist has had some tough conversations with me about getting my affairs in order and knocking things off my bucket list.

Essentially, the cancer is officially in my bloodstream and there is no percentage or life-expectancy time frame she can give me. While I feel really darn good right now, despite starting up with chemo treatments again, this is a terminal issue. I will need to be on some kind of chemo until my body can’t take it anymore or it becomes a quality of life issue. That being said, we also don’t truly know how my cancer will react to the treatments in the future. The hope is that the chemo will keep things from spreading and shrink the existing tumors. I am simply praying that complications from chemo will not deter my life expectancy or quality of living.

It’s sad, no doubt, and there is not much a person can say to news like this. Ultimately, it is affording me some time to be concentrating on my kids and spending quality time with family. Fortunately, this means that surgery is now off the table, and that’s a good thing for my colon. The tumor that was there is no longer detectible and everything is functioning grandly down in my nether regions. No resection. No colectomy bag. Thank God!

My future work plans and retirement seem like a moot point now. It’s weird to be shifting my mind toward how to view life. Realistically, none of us know when we’ll leave this world, and we really should be living as though each day is our last; yet, we continue to make plans as though that isn’t the case. For me, it’s just more real I suppose. It’s like KNOWING what’s going to kill you opens up an entire can of unknowns, which feels surreal.

I will be looking into experimental treatments and alternative ideas, but the course of chemo I am on now is the absolute most up to date and I need to finish the next 4-5 rounds before I look into other ideas. I am on it!

I will be sharing my GoFundMe page more frequently. I still have some money saved up from that, but I will need more in the future, which is reflected in the new goal amount that I have set. I should officially qualify for disability, but who knows how much and how long it will take for that to go through. I will be downsizing my life quite a bit and simplifying lots of things in order to not be financially strapped, but getting help from others is still crucial for me and my kids. Even if you can’t give, at least spread the word around for me, would ya?

Lastly, March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and I can’t think of a better thing to promote right now. I have survived colon cancer two other times now, and while this time is different, I still want to encourage people to get their colons checked, even if you aren’t at the age of 50 yet. If you consistently feel irregular, have unexplained pain, have lost weight unexplainably, have blood in your stool or have a history of colon cancer in your family, don’t hesitate to see a GI doctor. Colonoscopies are funny to joke about, but are SO NO BIG DEAL to have done. I should know; I have had six so far!

Take care of yourselves. Hug your loved ones. Make amends with people. Forgive. Be praying for my kids, close friends and family members as we traverse these strange waters. I am so dang grateful for so much love in my life!

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily Reese
My new wig.
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I. Am. Amazed! I almost have enough money to cover rent for seven months. After that, it's my car payment, bills, food, medical needs and basic stuff for my kiddos and me.

I wish words could describe just how thankful I am and how overwhelmed I am with LOVE.

Humanity amazes me in good ways all the time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Let's keep going!

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily Reese
Taken by Devon and Felipe in SF. LOVE!
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Read a Previous Update
Wanda Gaines
17 months ago
2
2

Love, hugs and prayers from The Gaines Family

+ Read More
Elissa Roggeveen Alton
17 months ago
1
1

Prayers and good vibes coming your way!!! -Lissa

+ Read More
Lindsay Blackhurst Shipley
10 months ago

Keep going nothing can stop you. When I met you yesterday I could see how strong you are .I wish my daughter had a teacher like you Much love from the Shipley family

+ Read More
Joy Hollander
11 months ago

You touch my soul...

+ Read More
Harriet Reynolds
12 months ago

Hi Emily, We're long time friends of the Visser's and have known Mindy since she was an infant. We think that you were in contact with our son Tom Reynolds a few years ago. As you know, Tom fought colon cancer and died June 25, 2015. Even though we can't imagine what you're going through but we have lived through something similar. What is our advice, listen to your Dr. and live the life that you have. Don't postpone anything! Ask your Dr's if your treatment will help you enjoy the life that you have or hinder your ability to live the life that you have. Tom decided to receive Hospice care (what a wonderful group) but also thought that he would have a few months left to spend time with family and friends and enjoy life. That didn't happen. He lived 2 months but was often unable to communicate and wasn't able to even have a week to enjoy the rest of his life. Our hope is that you live your life to the fullest, enjoy your children and be the best advocate possible for yourself. We're sending you our most powerful positive thoughts. If we can be of any help, we're here for you! Our warmest wishes. Harriet and Dave Reynolds

+ Read More
Sarah Vanderah Smith
12 months ago

Emily you and your family are in my daily prayers.

+ Read More

$34,734 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 348 people in 17 months
Created September 2, 2016
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DL
$100
Dede Lee
2 months ago

From Kittenhead - because we couldn't make this year's Marianarchy, but we wanted to ensure we did do something!

$25
Kadillac25 Kim
4 months ago

I have never met you, but so many of my friends have been touched by you. It's not much, but if we all do a little bit... Best wishes.

KH
$100
Katy Holland
9 months ago

Proud to be a part of Team Emily! You bring so much light to the world :)

AT
$50
Angie Taylor
9 months ago

I think of you so often as you lead this fight for so many of us. Keep living your purpose, Em. It is inspiring so many of us. Love you my friend.

$50
Anonymous
9 months ago
$50
Tripp Frank
10 months ago

Your family has been an amazing joy in my life!

BA
$100
brandi anderson
10 months ago

Sending you prayers and survive and thrive vibes girl!

VL
$50
Virginia Larmore
10 months ago

I'm inspired by your courage and strength. Sending prayers to your family.

IT
$50
Ian Tipton
10 months ago

Much love to you, Emily and to all your family and friends!!!! Keeping you in my thoughts.

Wanda Gaines
17 months ago
2
2

Love, hugs and prayers from The Gaines Family

+ Read More
Elissa Roggeveen Alton
17 months ago
1
1

Prayers and good vibes coming your way!!! -Lissa

+ Read More
Lindsay Blackhurst Shipley
10 months ago

Keep going nothing can stop you. When I met you yesterday I could see how strong you are .I wish my daughter had a teacher like you Much love from the Shipley family

+ Read More
Joy Hollander
11 months ago

You touch my soul...

+ Read More
Harriet Reynolds
12 months ago

Hi Emily, We're long time friends of the Visser's and have known Mindy since she was an infant. We think that you were in contact with our son Tom Reynolds a few years ago. As you know, Tom fought colon cancer and died June 25, 2015. Even though we can't imagine what you're going through but we have lived through something similar. What is our advice, listen to your Dr. and live the life that you have. Don't postpone anything! Ask your Dr's if your treatment will help you enjoy the life that you have or hinder your ability to live the life that you have. Tom decided to receive Hospice care (what a wonderful group) but also thought that he would have a few months left to spend time with family and friends and enjoy life. That didn't happen. He lived 2 months but was often unable to communicate and wasn't able to even have a week to enjoy the rest of his life. Our hope is that you live your life to the fullest, enjoy your children and be the best advocate possible for yourself. We're sending you our most powerful positive thoughts. If we can be of any help, we're here for you! Our warmest wishes. Harriet and Dave Reynolds

+ Read More
Sarah Vanderah Smith
12 months ago

Emily you and your family are in my daily prayers.

+ Read More
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