Cancer Strikes Back: Sarah Tigerman needs your help
Most of you know that Sarah has been fighting oral cancer for almost four years. It was first diagnosed in 2009, when she had minor surgery to remove a small lesion on her tongue. Then there was the big recurrence in 2011, and Sarah had major surgery on August 16, 2011 followed by many weeks of daily radiation. A year on from her surgery, Sarah has now learned that this difficult and aggressive treatment did not successfully eliminate the cancer. She has a new tumor at the back of her tongue and it is growing rapidly.
I am writing to ask you to help support Sarah's next steps financially, in addition to the emotional and practical support which I know so many of you are providing already.
Sarah's prognosis is poor, and she is left with few treatment options. Her medical team at Kaiser has proposed surgery to remove her tongue (including the part they just built for her last year), or implanting radioactive seeds around the rapidly growing tumor. Neither of these options has a strong record of success. The surgeon specifically said there would be high odds of recurrence even with total removal of the tongue.
Sarah now has to balance fighting the cancer with having some quality of life. Since her surgery and radiation last year, she has been consuming all her food through a PEG tube into her stomach and dealing with the pain and other side effects caused by her treatment. That has been difficult enough, and now for the last few months she has had increasing pain and stress on her system from the new (undiagnosed) tumor.
The best next step in Sarah's situation is treatment well established in several other countries, but not yet available in the US. It consists of local hyperthermia (heat treatment to the area) and standard chemotherapy given directly to the tumor to shrink it. At best, this integrated treatment could shrink the tumor away, avoiding need for any surgery.
Sarah first made contact with the Herzog Clinic in Germany over a year ago. She wanted to be treated there last summer, but became too ill to travel. Instead she had the radical tongue and neck surgery at Kaiser in Oakland. Now, facing this recurrence of the cancer, Sarah is moving fast to access focused treatment that also supports a quality of life, which means going to Germany for at least six weeks.
The Herzog Clinic takes a holistic approach, as is more common in Europe, and will also perform treatments to support the immune system, to reduce chemotherapy related side effects and to maintain or improve the quality of life. These are treatments like infusions with high doses of antioxidants and vitamins, along with several other complementary modalities. Sarah's physical therapy needs will also be addressed at this complete care hospital.
Sarah's partner Jenni visited the clinic and met with Dr. Herzog in person a little over a week ago, just after they found out about the cancer's recurrence. One stroke of luck in this bleak picture is that Jenni's mother lives in Germany, not far from the clinic, so they have family support in the area. Overall, the plan is coming together, with a good doctor and clinic staff waiting to receive Sarah and Jenni when they arrive in Germany on Friday (Sept 7th).
The gap in the plan right now is money. Sarah has been back at work less than six months, and going back on disability pay will provide only a fraction of her salary.
She has exhausted her personal resources on medical and other cancer-related expenses over the last year. She is the process of refinancing her house to consolidate her debts and find some financial stability, and that was started well before this recurrence was discovered. Now she needs to fund her treatment at the Herzog Clinic and associated travel expenses. We anticipate this will cost between $25,000 and $40,000. It doesn't seem exorbitant for a chance of a better, longer life.
Anything you can contribute will make a difference. Please give whatever you can. (Gifts of up to $13,000 are tax-free, so no need to worry about taxes incurred on Sarah's side.)
There are three easy ways to contribute to Sarah's treatment fund:
1. On-line at www.gofundme.com/14oyu0 . You can use credit cards on this site, and it is very easy to use. You can also share the link on Facebook or by email with any friends or family who might also be able to help. (Be aware that 7% of your donation will go to administration fees, so please consider using methods 2 and 3 below.)
2. Direct deposit into a dedicated checking account Sarah set up at Chase Bank. You can go to any Chase location to make a deposit in person, or you can transfer funds online from your own bank - using the account number if you bank with Chase, or the routing number if you use any other bank or credit union. This approach will incur no fees (for you or Sarah). The Account # is 115079730 and the Routing # is 322271627
3. Or, you can simply send a check to Connie Priddy, who is graciously managing the treatment fund for Sarah. If you need to contact Connie to arrange this, her email is priddyconnie at gmail dot com.
I will keep you up to date on Sarah's progress "“ make sure to sign up for the email updates on www.LotsaHelpingHands.com if you haven't already.
Please join me in supporting Sarah in whatever way you can.
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