Help Our Family Beat Brain Cancer

My mom, Debbie Dodson, has been fighting brain cancer for about 3 years. She was announced cancer free in July of 2012 and this December the doctors found the cancer has come back. We almost lost a great mother,wife,sister, and daughter. When we first discovered the first tumor, it took our family by surprise. I witnessed my mom lose the ability to walk, talk, think, control emotions, and we witnessed many seizures. This went on for roughly 5 months before we could find out what was wrong. While she was working for the IRS (whom she worked for since she was 17 years old as a computer programmer), an ambulance was called into her office four times and eventually she started taking a lot of time off of work and using up her sick leave. My mom had worked for the IRS for 31 years and received an award every year, yet her boss treated her with such heartlessness. It got to the point where her boss was trying to get her fired and we had to fight her and the IRS. As we shelled out many thousands on attorney fees, we were doing all we could to find out what was wrong with her. We knew something was very wrong. A countless amount of doctors sent her home after checking her heart and nothing more. Eventually doctors began to think she was just having panic attacks and everyone needed to use tough love to get her through everything. I, her 16 year old daughter (at that time), was taking psychology in high school. We were learning all about the symptoms and causes or M.S. and Parkinson's disease. My mom had many of the symptoms so I brought these up to my dad. My dad scheduled an appointment with a neurologist, and we soon discovered my mom had a massive tumor on the frontal lobe of her brain. She was rushed to Georgetown Hospital in September of 2010. My dad, brother, and I met her up there that evening. There was panic everywhere. The doctors told us the tumor may be cancerous. This was the scariest moment of all of our lives. The doctors said the tumor was huge and they were very worried she would not make it through the next few nights leading up to surgery. The doctors could not operate immediately due to the swelling of the brain. It would have been too risky. Each night and day was full of suspense. Surgery day came and everything went very well. Dr. Walter Jean had saved her life and he is one of my biggest heroes. However, he gathered up the entire family (my mom's sisters, parents, nephews and nieces. He told us the tumor proved to be cancer. The tumor was tested and we soon found out this monster was known as Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma (stage 3 brain cancer). My mom went through months and months of radiation treatments followed by a year and a half of chemotherapy treatments. As she fought this disease with all of her heart, we continued to fight up the battle with the IRS. With expensive medical bills, we eventually had to fire our attorneys and fight alone. An investigator informed us that my mom's boss was allegedly heard telling employees that my mom was faking her illness and using it as an excuse to not come into work. She told her employees that my mom was a drunk and it appeared she was doing all she could to get my mom fired. She declared that my mom was AWOL all the time as she did not believe that my mom was seriously ill. After almost two years of fighting the government, we got a preliminary type hearing. It all came down to my mom's testimony. However; due to the tumor, my mom lost a lot of her memory and we lost the case. It was not a matter of our family making money from the IRS, it was a matter of right and wrong. Our goal was to teach this woman a lesson and hopefully she learned to be a better person. Had we not fought this woman, my mom would have been fired and we would have lost our health insurance. Unfortunately money has been very tight for our family. We have managed to get through and my mom was able to retire on disability. Although; due to the fact she had to retire early, she does not receive all of her benefits. My dad is self-employed, but he has not gotten much work done with all of the hospital visits, paper work, and my mom having to rely on his help. He has become my mom's full time care provider. Our family has been struggling and on top of it, we find the cancer has returned and my mom needs another operation to remove the second tumor. Our family's portion of the surgery and medical expenses each year will continue to exceed $5,000, as it has for each of the past 3 years. Please help our family. My mom means the world to me and many others. We need support! God bless you all,

The Dodson Family
(Jim, Debbie, Ashley, and Stephen)
Continued :( ...
My mom recovered nicely from her operation and was able to come home with us for a couple of weeks. However in February, she had a neurological episode. The ambulance was called and she was sent back to Georgetown due to an infection and excess fluid on her brain. There was a lot of debate on putting a shunt or some drains into her head. A doctor decided to wrap a bandage really tight around her head in hopes or preventing the fluid from seeping to the sides of her skull. The bandage was not checked and she was in enough pain to cause the nurses to inject morphine. The bandage was pulled off a few days later and her head had been torn and burned open. The original infection was now under control and she seemed to be stable. She would be released from Georgetown to rehabilitation in Calvert Memorial Hospital. Before she was released, her mother passed away from kidney failure and a fatal infection called calciphilaxis. My mom was too ill to attend the funeral and it seemed like everything that could go wrong, was going wrong. My mom was released to Calvert though. After about a day there, she spiked a fever and doctors took a blood culture to check for infection. Dr.Pomilla discovered a very serious infection. He realized my mom should not have been released and she was sent back to Georgetown. Georgetown found a number of infections but one very serious infection. The infection is called psuedomonas aerugonosa and once it reaches the brain, it is associated with a 90% mortality rate. This infection was in her brain and was caused by the burn on her forehead. The burn is very severe and we had a number of plastic surgeons approach us to let us know she would need surgery to fix the giant scar it would leave. That was not our biggest concern. My mom was fighting a very serious infection and excess fluid on the brain. In March, my mother suffered from multiple seizures and heart problems. My mother's heart did stop beating one night and doctors had to shock her to bring her back to us. She was on the heaviest antibiotics possible. She was opened back up and her head was flushed out in hopes of cleaning out the infected areas. She was living off of a breathing tube and a feeding tube while she had drains placed in her head to removed fluid. She was unable to move, speak, eat, or even show us any sign that she was not completely brain dead. She had her eyes closed for many days and for a while there, many people thought it was the end of the road for her. I almost lost my mother a second time. Eventually she did show signs of stability. We had good days and bad days. Doctors decided to place a trach into her throat and the feeding tube was placed surgically into her stomach. She received multiple operations. After blood clots, fevers, and other smaller problems; Insurance was unwilling to pay for her to stay any longer as she was pronounce medically stable. We were not thrilled with this news but she was moved into a nursing home in Bowie. At this nursing home she began to move just a little and she learned to shake her head, blink for us, and even speak just a little. She was recovering slowly but surely. After a few weeks there, Insurance decided she was not progressing fast enough and if we wanted her to stay there, we would have to pay out of pocket. My dad and I decided to bring her home because they were not cleaning her very well there. They didn't move her often enough or change her and she had developed bed soars and rashes. She is now home. My dad and I watch her, feed her tiny bits of ice cream, give her medication, feed her with the feeding tube, wash her, talk to her, and change her. She is still improving ever so slowly but I am lucky to have her with me today. We are still in a huge financial mess and would appreciate all of the donations and help we could get! Please spread the word!!


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Ashley Dodson 
Huntingtown, MD
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