McKee Family

Amanda was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer that had spread to her abdominal cavity in July of 2015, just days before her 32nd birthday. She started chemotherapy immediately but doctors found that her high grade cancer was resistant to the therapy and the only cure would be surgery. The first surgeon that we visited in September 2015 told us she was a lost cause and gave her a year, or two if she's fortunate. We were not willing to accept this and found a team of amazing doctors at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto that were willing to operate. They gave Amanda a 20% chance of having a successful surgery due to the size of the tumours and their location. The surgeons were astonished at how well the surgery went and were able to clear Amanda of any signs of disease(November 2015). The surgery was major, 13 hours long in which they had removed all gynaecological parts, her large bowel, spleen, omentum and part of her liver. Recovery was long and difficult but Amanda is a fighter and made it through. In June 2016, she returned to Toronto to have her ileostomy reversed by one of the doctors that did her surgery. Unfortunately while doing this procedure, there was obvious signs of recurrent cancer forming on her bowel. At this point the cancer was too small to treat so it was a wait and see approach with regular monitoring out of Toronto. In February of 2017, the tumours had grown to a size that the doctors decided to move forward with treatment. This time it would be a combination of chemotherapy and a trial drug in its second phase. To participate in this study, the drugs were required to be administered in Toronto in a controlled setting. This required us to travel to Toronto every week on Wednesday and Thursday for blood work, consults and treatment. Part of the study required a punch biopsy of the tumour. Unfortunately the biopsy instrument nicked a part of Amanda's bowel which caused her bowel to leak into her abdomen. The treatment was showing promising signs with the tumours either shrinking or remaining stable. In April 2017, Amanda's body went septic and it created a fistula, which is a port from the bowel to the outside via her abdomen, in which the waste from her bowel would drain. Due to this complication, Amanda was not allowed to continue on this trial drug. She continued standard chemotherapy in Sault Ste. Marie. The first chemo was showing no affects on her tumours so they switched to a more aggressive chemotherapy. This new chemotherapy really wiped Amanda out and unbeknownst to us at the time, started shutting down her kidneys and liver. Amanda was in and out of hospital for most of July and August, until again her body went septic and her vitals dropped extremely low. She was admitted to ICU at the start of September for two weeks and doctors could not explain how she recovered and continues to do so. At this time there is no treatment that she can receive because the doctors fear it will shut down her vital organs again. Amanda's goal is to get healthy enough for them to proceed with a new treatment with confidence.

We have been asked to do a go fund me page since the start of our journey and have resisted, trying to manage on our own with savings, selling off assets, family assistance but have gotten to the point where we've run out of things to sell other than the house. Amanda went off work at the start when she was first diagnosed and we made it through the periods of short term, employment insurance and long term disability. She returned to work from August 2016 to February 2017 and we were just starting to get ourselves back on track when we were required to travel to Toronto weekly which meant flights (or driving if she felt up to it) and hotels in downtown Toronto. We realized that the further away you book your flights, the cheaper the cost so we started booking 6 weeks in advance on our credit card. When Amanda fell ill with the bowel leakage, we had to cancel those flights and got next to nothing back. Travel insurance didn't cover it because it was a pre existing condition. On top of all this, we have two beautiful children, Mason age 6 and Kayla age 3, that we have made a priority to ensure that this doesn't affect their life or their future. Kids are always growing and constantly needing new clothing and developmental programs. We are at a point right now where we're in limbo between employment insurance and long term disability and it will be almost two months of receiving no money for Amanda.

This request goes completely against our moral compasses because we have always worked hard to accomplish our goals without handouts. Amanda is a registered nurse and we worked multiple jobs while she completed her bachelors degree through Laurentian University. Amanda has worked in the mental health field and as a supervisor of a medical floor at Sault Area Hospital. She had intended to go for her masters and become a nurse practitioner prior to this. Amanda has always stressed that she wants people to focus on all of the good things that she has accomplished rather than her disease. She doesn't want ovarian cancer to define who she is and it never will. Amanda is the strongest person that I have ever met and I have no doubt that she will find a way through this.

Fate whispers to the warrior, "You cannot withstand the storm." The warrior whispers back, "I am the storm."

This has been Amanda's motto through this entire process and it's not going to change now. One way or another, we will find a way to keep pushing forward and get through this.

Thank you for taking the time to read our story.

Dan, Amanda, Mason and Kayla
  • Anonymous 
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  • Stephanie Weber 
    • $50 
    • 44 mos
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    • $100 
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    • $50 
    • 44 mos
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Organizer and beneficiary

Jenna Dawson 
Organizer
Sault Ste Marie, ON
Daniel McKee 
Beneficiary
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