$6,740 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 71 people in 13 months
Created February 24, 2018

Once again, my daughter Debbie Bosma has received devastating news.  On the advice of the West Michigan Cancer Center, Debbie underwent genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.  The results were not good.  

The  oncologist said the latest cancer research showed that, having a harmful BRCA2 mutation, Debbie has an 80 percent probability of getting breast cancer.  Her oncologist recommended a prophylactic double mastectomy as soon as possible. (Remember that beautiful celebrity who did the same thing?) Not having that person's resources, I am asking for your help to save my beautiful daughter.

Debbie is coming up on five years as a survivor of Stage IIIc ovarian cancer.  She underwent a 5-1/2 hour radical surgery to remove everything having to do with reproduction and to remove a myriad of tiny tumors in her abdomen.  This was followed by six months of the most aggressive chemotherapy treatments available for the rare type of ovarian cancer she had. 

During this period, Debbie’s father was also receiving chemotherapy, and she and her Dad would walk hand in hand to the treatment room.  Debbie had to be in a bed for her double infusions and her Dad’s recliner was brought into her room so they could be together. Sadly, her father lost his battle a month after Debbie completed her treatment, making her recovery even more difficult.

During this time when she could not work, Debbie  depleted all of her 401k and savings accounts to pay for medical and living expenses. 
 27982674_15195266550_r.jpegLearning to glove and gown again.  First post-cancer job!

 After working in physicians’ offices and hospitals, Debbie is now a traveling nurse, with assignments all over the United States.  This job does not provide any paid time off – no sick days, no paid vacation, no personal days.  The time she must take off now is not compensated except for a short-term disability payment that barely covers her monthly health insurance payment.

Debbie lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan while her children were growing up.  She enjoys being active and involved, and volunteered at the high school concessions, was one of the team moms for wrestling, and donated mountains of food to feed the big appetites of the football and wrestling teams.

In addition to donating yearly to local food banks, she buys locally and supports farmers markets.  She volunteers at and donates to a fundraiser for the Cooper Township Fire Department and the Great Lakes Burn Camp at Pretty Lake in Mattawan, Michigan, which is free to children who have been burned or are otherwise disadvantaged. 

In spite of having significant asthma and allergies, Debbie took up running, participating in events such as the Kalamazoo Mud Run, which helps build wells in Africa, and provides fresh water and food in Kalamazoo;  The Tough Mudder, which helps the Wounded Warrior Project; The Muddy Patriot, which also helps wounded soldiers; The Insane Inflatable 5k, which makes donations to local charities; and the Color Run, a national event.  She likes to get involved in runs that have a purpose.  
27982674_15195274700_r.jpegThe Color Run has donated more than $5 million to  charity nationwide

Prior to her cancer diagnosis, Debbie earned a Gallon Donor designation from the American Red Cross for her donations to their blood drives.  

She is the Durable Power Of Attorney designee for an elderly friend who doesn't have family to help him.  They frequently go out to lunch and shopping.  She brings him groceries when she knows his funds are limited and helps him during the numerous times he has been hospitalized. 

For reasons like these, Debbie is asking for your help because she believes she has much more to contribute to those in need.

I was dismayed to learn that medical costs for Debbie’s surgery can run from $15,000 to as high as $50,000.  My goal is to raise $10,000 by May, 2018.  Insurance unfortunately doesn’t cover all medical expenses.  Your contribution will also help to pay living expenses during recovery and travel expenses to and from the out-of-town hospital for surgery and follow-up appointments.  Each drive is a 220-mile round trip.

By donating to help cover these expenses, you will also be helping to ease Debbie’s mind at a time when she will be trying to heal and recover from another life -impacting major surgery, this time to prevent cancer.  No amount is too small but I realize not everyone can make a donation.  If you would share this campaign with your friends and family, spreading the word will make a difference.  Your help means so much to us.

In her first battle with cancer, people who knew Debbie, and even those who didn't, prayed for her.  The power of those prayers helped tremendously.  If you cannot donate to this cause, I ask for your prayers as she goes to combat against cancer again.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and for sharing Debbie’s story with others.  Her two sons and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts for donating to her cause and helping to save Debbie.
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Hello Everyone, it's Debbie. Today was another surgery day. It's the first of three that will be needed to fix the damage and burns caused during the initial surgery.

Today's procedure was to remove the damaged skin down to healthy tissue. A special skin substitute was temporarily sewn in to protect and promote new tissue growth. After 3 weeks, I'll go back in for surgery #2 to remove the skin substitute. It will be replaced by a permanent skin graft taken from elsewhere on my body. More about that later when the time comes.

Not only am I going through my agony, my sister, Annie, and her family are going through theirs. I'm sure you've heard about the Kilauea eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii. She and her husband bought a house in their dream location on Kapoho Bay. They were to live right next door to their best friends, who also recently bought a house. They were all busy with renovations, and Annie's family had not yet moved in. Earlier today, Pele, the Lava Goddess, claimed the bay and Annie's little neighborhood. The aerial footage and photography are devastating and heartbreaking. Thankfully, they still had their old place to return to, and everyone is safe.

Today was long, exhausting, painful, and emotional. At least I was able to go home after this surgery. I could hug my best friend, snuggle my pupper, and sleep in my own bed.

By the grace and mercy of our Lord, I have my own personal angels. My mom, as she helps me with even the simplest of things that I cannot do myself because of restrictions. My best friend, Susan, for all she does even with her insane schedule, and, all of YOU. You have shown me your love and support, which uplifts my soul. Thank you, over and over. You are all living proof that God is good, and He works through you.

Much love to all,
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Hello again,
It's Debbie, and I have horrible news. The skin that was burned during surgery has died. My navel has also died, and I'm left with weird rolls on the sides of my belly. I will require more surgery to remove the dead tissues. The divot will be filled with a special matrix to promote tissue growth. About 3 weeks after that, I will need skin grafting. Somewhere in there they will remove my navel and create a new one, and fix the funky side rolls.

I am beyond devastated. Not only am I struggling to handle one surgery, I now will need at least two more. I won't be able to return to work as planned. I won't be able to return to the activities I love. Missing out with my friends, and feeling isolated because of physical limitations after surgery. All this anguish from things completely avoidable that weren't. What was an elective, prophylactic surgery has turned into all my fears come true.

Thank you for listening, for your kind words of support, and for your prayers.

Most fondly,
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Hello Everyone,

It's Debbie again. *This may be gross to some,* but I'm going to share anyway. This will be a bit long, so bear with me.

The 12.5 hour surgery went, but not well. During the removal of the inside breast tissue, a surgeon cauterized too close to the undersurface of the skin. This damage caused severe 2nd degree burns, and large blisters appeared. One appeared immediately and had to be excised before the plastics team could even start the reconstruction.

I awoke in my hospital room on Tuesday strapped to noisy breast oxygen sensors and dopplers, continuous alarms, and additional IVs (in my ankle, being squeezed under the SCD) and strangers poking at my swollen and extensively bruised boobs. I could immediately see something was wrong. One side had burn line I knew shouldn't be there. The other looked as expected, as did my belly incision. My navel was iffy, but I'll come back to that.

Over the next few hours, new blisters appeared. I was on hourly checks and bed rest. I kept asking if the blisters were normal, and why was there a cautery mark where it shouldn't be? The entourage of residents kept reassuring me "this was all normal" even after I'd asked multiple times. New, large blisters kept forming, popping, and reforming. The sensors kept alarming with poor quality readings. Tegaderm over Tegaderm to reinforce the sensors. Special creams were begun to encourage blood flow to the breast and navel. I had numerous questions to the surgeons as to color of things and my my navel, only to be told it was the type of skin glue they use. I even asked what type of glue, and how this, and that? I asked if the ankle IV could be removed, but was told it had to stay "just in case" I needed to go back to surgery.

After days of telling me things are good, leaving on lights, poking at me, and leaving my gowns unsnapped, on the third day, the lead resident peeled off the tegaderm and LAYERS of skin came with it. Only then, did he start telling me there "might" be something wrong. He was condescending, dancing around my questions, and then asked me if I even knew what a mastectomy was. My angry stare wasn't obvious, so he tried to explain. Then he minimized my navel by saying that they're just scar tissue anyway, so it'll eventually heal into something like a belly button. The entourage left me angry, sobbing, and they left a dirty needle on the table.

The primary plastics surgeon came in, not knowing the residents were just there. I told him what happened. It was only then that I received my first apology for not being honest about what was happening, and for not telling me what really happened in the OR after my many questions. He answered everything.

Three doctors later and a stiff scolding to all of them, not only by me but also by the lead surgeon, I was finally given honest answers. The one who caused the burns tried to blame it on my anatomy, my BRCA2 genetics, or this just happens, or reconstructions require many surgeries over many years to get them right, and even tried to put part of the blame on the plastic surgeon, that if he felt the damage was too far gone he shouldn't have done the reconstruction. I told her I didn't believe any of that. Only then did she apologize that this was happening, and that it threw all of them by having this unexpected outcome.

My breast is now actually being treated as a burn. Both the compromised belly button and breast will need additional surgeries to repair them. What was supposed to be a preventative procedure has turned into goat rodeo. I am, however, grateful for their expertise and ability to undertake such a surgery. I would still be waiting for cancer to develop.

The biggest thing you can do to help yourself in these situations is to educate and advocate for yourself. My work experience helped me through this one, but don't leave yourself exposed.
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I'm at University Hospital in the hotel room contemplating my last meal for the next 30 hrs. Tomorrow is the big day. My wonderful mom is here by my side. My bestest bestie is on her way, yet, I'm anxious. For someone who works in surgery every day, you think it'd be second nature. It isn't. Being on the receiving side again is extremely unnerving, however the love and support you've shown still continues to humble me. I am truly blessed to be surrounded so many good and caring people. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for following my journey!
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$6,740 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 71 people in 13 months
Created February 24, 2018
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