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Ben's Fight Against Cancer (MDS)

$13,835 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 129 people in 22 days
Created February 26, 2019
"We were just acclimating to having a third child and Nicole being a stay at home mom, now we are trying to save a life." This is a line I've been hearing a lot lately. My daughter, Nicole, and Ben are approaching eight wonderful years of marriage, are raising three beautiful children (Brooke 10, Betsy 4, and Bruce 11 months), and now they are facing an incredibly scary health situation.

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Ben’s Story:
 Ben met Nicole on a beautiful California Lake and fell in love under the summertime stars in July of 2009. They were married in 2011 after a whirlwind romance. Ben had a beautiful baby girl, Brooke, from a previous relationship. Nicole happily signed on to join their family. Their great love grew even stronger in 2014 with the birth of Betsy, again in 2016 with their daughter Bee (which they lost to still birth at 39 weeks gestation), and even more so after their “Rainbow Baby” Bruce was born in February of 2018.  They experienced much happiness and great loss, but gained faith, and a huge community of friends, that began to make a wonderful impact on their marriage and how they were choosing to raise their children.

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What Happened:
Beginning in February of 2018 (around the birth of their third child), Ben started to fall sick often. Monthly he was battling the cold, flu, or both, and it would take a week for him to recover (others in the family would have the same illness and sometimes function as normal). It seemed like every important event or family adventure would be cut short or paused due to Ben not feeling well. In July of 2018, he contracted the flu which was followed by a rash (small red bumps that started on his chest and gradually moved down his torso and legs). The rash did not itch or seem to bother him much, but he decided to go to the doctor for good measure. The doctor was convinced it was a viral rash, but decided on a whim, to order a blood panel just to be sure. This is when their cancer story begins.

Ben’s blood counts came back abnormally low (all of them). Once again, the doctors thought it was viral. “A common reaction from a virus, most likely nothing to be concerned about.”  Within two weeks (August 2018), they were walking to the fourth floor of Kaiser to discuss the possible outcomes with an oncologist. Ben was scared, but Nicole kept repeating, “Don’t worry. It is going to be nothing, I promise.” After 100’s of vials of blood (blood tests trying to determine if this was a vitamin deficiency, a virus, an autoimmune disease, etc.), two bone marrow biopsies, multiple discussions with their oncologist, many sleepless nights, and five months of time, they were told Ben had Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS).

The Plan: After meeting with two oncologists and completing lots of research, Ben and Nicole decided to follow the plan that Kaiser had laid out for them. Ben would be starting Vidaza, a chemotherapy that would aim to increase blood counts and act as a bridge to a bone marrow/stem cell transplant. Kaiser does not offer this treatment, so Ben and Nicole have been referred to Stanford University in Palo Alto. This is good news, as Stanford is a Center of Excellence, which is the best care they can ask for.

A bone marrow/stem cell transplant requires the finding of a perfect donor match, it requires Vidaza to do its job, and then it begins. Ben will receive a strong dose of chemo that will destroy his own stem cells. This, for lack of a better word, turns him into an infant. No immune system, the slightest infection can be deadly. The donor cells are then implanted and the waiting game begins. There is a laundry list of things that can go wrong, Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD), infections, and worst case scenario death. Ben will be hospitalized for 30 days, under 24/7 care at Stanford. Following the 30 days of hospitalization, Ben will need to live within 30 minutes of Stanford for 70 days (minimum) with 24/7 care from a family member/friend. Their task will be to cook, clean, take him to appointments, and rush him to emergency if there are any sudden reactions. It gets tricky outside of all of the risk, Ben and Nicole have young children. Contact with them could have huge consequences. He has been advised to not see his children during this process. Nicole will be traveling back and forth from our house in Antioch, to Palo Alto multiple days a week, while managing fill in care from friends/family while she is caring for their children.  Needless to say, it’s complicated, and the risks are high, but they are determined to achieve a cure.

Their Needs: Ben has been on light duty at work since November 2018, and has been encouraged by his oncologists to work until the transplant occurs. Ben is the primary provider for his family, as Nicole is a stay at home mother/wife. Since being placed on light duty he has lost approximately 30% of their annual income, due to the inability to work over time. Once he goes on disability he will be making 60% of his base pay (over time pay not included). They will have to manage travel expenses, medical expenses, possible childcare expenses, etc., while continuing to pay their mortgage. The cheapest hospital housing (i.e. facilities like the Ronald McDonald House) are approximately $100/night, which Kaiser will cover if housing is available at the time of transplant. If housing is not an option, they will be looking at hotels, campgrounds, or short term housing in one of the most expensive rental markets in the San Francisco Bay Area.

They have already begun to make necessary financial cuts, but the trimming does not begin to make up for the loss of income. They will be functioning on less than half of their normal pay, which can only start to be compensated for by renting or selling their home. While this is a possibility for them (they have already began talks with their realtor), it would be a huge relief for them not to have to move out of their home, uplift their children, and add a laundry list of tasks and stresses to their already difficult situation.

Any support you can provide to them in their time of need will be greatly appreciated. Ben and Nicole have pledged to pay-it-forward once he is healthy. Nicole has joined the bone marrow registry and has already enlisted over 20 friends/family members/acquaintances to join. They plan on finding other GoFundMe campaigns to support once they are past this challenge. If you don't have funds to donate, please consider joining the bone marrow registry  to help others suffering from bone marrow failure. We, along with Ben and Nicole, pray it would point you to God who has proven time and time again that He is behind the many miracles in our lives.

Join Be The Match - Become a donor today!

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Thank you so much for the overwhelming support so many of you have provided to Ben and Nicole. My heart is full with gratitude!
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$13,835 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 129 people in 22 days
Created February 26, 2019
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$50
Mary Ann Ashby
22 hours ago
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$50
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2 days ago
$50
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4 days ago
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$100
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4 days ago
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$200
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5 days ago
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7 days ago
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