My sister Stephanie is in a fight for her life: and its a fight she plans to win.
In January 2008, Steph's doctor called her at work to say she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. Steph, who never smoked in her life, was terrified, shocked and confused. When she called to tell me the news, she broke down in tears, repeating over and over that she did not want to die: and from that moment forward she began doing everything she could to live.
The good thing is that my sister has always been a go-getter, with a very active lifestyle. Steph sold radio advertising for over 20 years, and for the last 4 she traveled around the country as an account manager for nationally syndicated shows, including The Steve Harvey Morning Show. She's a people person with lots of friends, and sitting still is not in her DNA! So when thrust into an odyssey of doctors' visits, radiation and chemo, Steph stepped up to meet the challenge, often frustrated and sometimes afraid, but never hopeless.
Steph immediately began a round of intensive treatment - daily radiation for four weeks and ten rounds of chemo; but nothing changed. The doctor was not hopeful and told Steph to get her affairs in order. Instead of giving up hope, Steph and her husband immediately began researching alternative options and discovered MD Anderson, a top cancer center in Texas. They called immediately, sent records and the next week met with the doctors in Houston. The doctors there recommended an experimental treatment, proton radiation. After two months, it worked! Steph's cancer went into remission.
But at her 3-month checkup, Steph learned that the cancer had moved to her brain. Not giving up, she started another experimental treatment, radiation to the brain known as a gamma-knife procedure.Things were going well:until a year later when leg cramps and dizziness revealed the cancer was back. A second gamma knife procedure was not successful and left Steph paralyzed, unable to walk or move her right arm.
More doctor's appointments, therapies and treatments in Atlanta, Chicago and Houston resulted in the loss of her job and depletion of savings. Steph's need for round the clock caregivers at $4,000 each month and her $1,200 monthly health insurance payment is all out of pocket and not covered by her disability payments. To add to her challenge, Steph's husband, Stan, was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and had surgery in May 2013. Fortunately Stan survived, but he's unable to work or help with Steph's medical needs. Through it all, Steph is still hopeful and even supports other cancer survivors in overcoming obstacles that threaten to render them helpless and hopeless.
Recently, Steph learned about a world-renowned brain specialist, Dr. Ted Carrick, who operates Brain Centers in 28 cities. Dr. Carrick has had phenomenal success getting disabled patients back on their feet through a treatment called chiropractic neurology, which re-activates pathways in the brain. The treatment is expensive, $5,000 a week and not covered by insurance. She recently met Dr. Carrick and has been through several treatments. Steph's excited with the initial results and Dr. Carrick believes she will be able to regain the movement of her limbs.
Steph lives in a 2 story home with her bedroom & shower upstairs and cannot access without being carried once or twice a week! She sleeps downstairs in a makeshift bedroom in a hospital bed! She desperately needs a motorized stairlift to gain access to her home/shower but the cost is $15,000 out of pocket (not covered by insurance)! Her husband sleeps upstairs but is unable to carry her due to his health issues!
We need to raise $50,000 to support Steph: $15,000 for a stair lift, $4,000 per month for a caregiver, $1,200 per month for health insurance, and $5,000 per week for brain specialist treatment.
My sister always says that in her struggle there is a blessing, both for herself and others. So she's gearing up again to win this most important fight of all. I hope you will support her in what can only be called, "Steph's Odyssey of Hope."
- Joni Hawkins
- Lori Manns
- Lois Myers
- Pandora Yeargin-Johnson
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