Deneen's Fight~ We need your help....

Deneen Cook is an amazing woman who has always lived life with immeasurable enthusiasm, worked hard, cherished her family and had a love for everyone. My name is Sondra and I have had the pleasure of being her best friend for 22 years. I would like to share with you, her heartbreaking and painful story over the past 3 years.

Deneen's life has been exceptionally hard since 2010 but we are all very grateful she is still alive and with us. This entire story begin with her being diagnosed with a disease called "Transverse Myelitis" which is a neurological disorder affecting the spinal cord where she had trouble moving her arms and hands as if she had a stroke. In the beginning, that is what the doctors thought, she had a stroke. She went days with us feeding her until she regained control of her nervous system and they found out it was Transverse Myelitis. After this diagnosis, everything in her life begin to change drastically.

On September 4, 2010 she found herself in extreme pain that she had never felt before. After arriving at the ER, she found out that her colon had perforated and her intestines was leaking into her abdominal cavity. Deneen was rushed into emergency surgery to repair her colon immediately. My sweet friend spent the entire month of September in the hospital fighting for her life after her entire body contracted a serious infection, which is called sepsis. She spent eight days in SICU where we waited to find out if she would live. When she finally woke up, it was to find a colostomy bag. She took it like a champ wearing and changing the bag for over 4 months after leaving the hospital, trying so hard to stay positive. I was extremely proud of her because it wasn't easy but she pushed herself to returned to work, wearing the bag 11 weeks after waking up in the hospital because she knew her family could not survive without her income.

On January 5 , 2011 she was scheduled to have the reversal surgery to remove the colostomy bag and reattach the intestines. This put her out of work again but it was a surgery that had to be done. As she suffered financially, I continued to remind her this was all out of her control. But this surgery took her out of work for 10 weeks and her family was really struggling financially already before the 2nd surgery. But she had no choice but to have the reversal colostomy surgery at that time even though the debts and bills were building.

Deneen is a resilient woman that had been through an enormous amount of pain and suffering with her health up to this time in her life, so you can only imagine what ANY woman would go through if your husband left you at this time in your life. So things got much worse for my friend... While she was trying to heal from the reversal colostomy surgery, she woke the morning of February 12, 2011 to find that her husband of 27 years had left her and never came back home. He abandoned her sick and with 2 children along with all the financial responsibility they had accumulated together. My heart absolutely broke for her as I watched her try to pull her life and health back together. It was more than I thought any person should have to go through but as always, she held it together and stayed strong for her children.

But then she begin to have a tremendous amount of pain, on April 5, 2011, she was told that she had developed several hernias from the colon surgeries. She was devastated to find out that they would have to do a 3rd surgery to remove them. This surgery took her out of work for another 6 weeks with no income and no ex-spousal support in any way. But again she found a way to keep her home, put food on the table for her children and get through.

When she finally thought the worst was behind her and was trying desperately to pull it all together and keep her job, she woke again with extreme pain. The hernia's had returned and on November 8, 2011 she underwent her 4th surgery to remove the large hernia's and was out of work for 7 weeks struggling the entire time to make ends meet, keep her home, keep food in the house, take care of her children and keep her job. Deneen thought all the surgeries was surely behind her and focused desperately to hold her life together for her children's sake while still getting no help from her ex-husband. So all she could focus on was getting well and getting back to work.

But it seemed she couldn't get a break, she woke again to severe pain in the middle of the night... In her mind, she thought it just couldn't be more hernia's. She thought she had won the battle but she had not. The doctors didn't want to cut on her anymore at that time and put the surgery off worried she had been under too much anesthesia. But as the days passed and the pain grew more intense, the hernia's continued to grow larger and larger along with multiplying. At this time, the doctors had to do a 5th surgery because the hernia's had gotten too large and there was a total of 6 in the stomach region by this time. The doctors could not risk them interfering with her organs and Deneen was in extreme pain every day. On August 8, 2013 they performed the surgery. They told her right up front that a ventral hernia with component separation and complex repair with biological mesh throughout the whole stomach would be very intense and dangerous but she had no choice but to go through with it. Again, she ended up in SICU for 3 days. Fluid had filled her lungs and they removed over a gallon to keep her alive. Once more, we waited to see if she would live but my friend survived again because she is a fighter and God has bigger plans for her.

Here we are today as I sit and write this with tears in my eyes... She has been out of work so far now for 12 weeks to find out that there are even more complications from the last surgery. Her incision became infected along with skin necrosis. The surgeon had no choice but to open her back up to remove the dead skin and infection. He cut a hole about 5 inches long and 3 inches deep to remove the infection, remove the skin necrosis and clean the area. She now at this time, has a home health nurse who comes 3 times per week to help her with a permanent vacuum they have inserted in the large hole that is connected to a large sponge. This puts a continuous vacuum on the infected opening. It is uncomfortable, painful and restricts her from being able to do anything but lay in bed so the vacuum can do its job and keep the infection cleaned out.

We found out this week that the surgeons will be putting her back in for a 6th surgery to close up the large hole, hoping that it will keep the infection out. They are wanting to do the surgery around October 16, 2013 depending on if the infection she has at this time clears up. So again, my friend will be going under anesthesia and surgery for another procedure.
Deneen is trying to be brave and strong but she is incredibly scared about her health, the surgery and losing everything she owns. She is out of money completely, she has no savings left, she has no income coming in from any other source and she is unable to work. No surgeon or doctor can tell her when she may be able to return to work at this time under the condition that her body is in.

*Ask For What You Need.... Asking for help does not come easy for anyone, but Deneen has realized that it is a necessity for survival at this time in her life and is allowing me to ask you for help. It is very difficult for any of us to ask for help when we need it because it is sometimes foreseen in our society as being weak, but in that vulnerability there is more strength than ever to be able to ask for what you need.
I'm extremely proud of her for not giving up over the past 3 years and fighting for her life, for her home, her children necessities above her own and never once has she ask for assistance but she no longer can make it without our help.

Many friends have offered to help her so on her behalf I'm humbling asking for your help financially.
I want to thank you in advance for anything you can do to contribute. Whether is it donating or sharing this story with your friends and family. ANYTHING you can donate will add up... If everyone who reads this donates just $5.00 or $10.00, we can keep Deneen in her house, keep her lights on, pay her health insurance, buy food and pay some of the mounting debt from not being able to work. Even with health insurance the medical bills are piling up. Every cent donated will go directly to help her fight this battle...

Let's show her our love through our donations to help her through these horrible circumstances. It has been a long journey for her and there is no way we can let her give up the fight now. It's time for her to focus on trying to get better and she will and can with all our support.

In advance, Deneen thanks you from her heart and she is open and very grateful for your prayers & loving thoughts while she embraces another tough time in her life.
Thank you ALL so very much for reading her story. I truly don't know how my life would have turned out without her in it and I don't want to ever find out,

Sondra Upchurch

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Even with everything Deneen is going through, she has a smile...
We love you!!! Get well soon....

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Sondra Lee 
Mobile, AL
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