As many of you already know, in early February of this year, my best friend Debi's world was turned upside down.
The diagnosis was Stage 4 Renal Clear Cell Carcinoma (RCCC aka Kidney Cancer) with metastasis to the liver and lung. She underwent surgery to have her left kidney, the 3 inch tumor removed, and ended up having her adrenal gland and several inflamed lymph nodes taken out, as cancer was present there as well. It was successful and she was ready for a typical recovery period from a major procedure like this, and then begin the treatment for the remaining Cancer. However, Debi started to notice some unusual symptoms, including impaired gross and fine motor skills and slurring of her speech and difficulty finding words - which she affectionately named "the drunken toddler syndrome". She was devastated to learn that the cancer had spread to her brain.
She has always been one of the kindest, bravest, most generous, funny, loving and sensitive people I know, and yet somehow through this nightmare, she has become even more compassionate, empathetic, positive and courageous.
Not long ago, she sent me this text, "...It was extremely terrifying just finding out about the brain lesions to begin with...& that I cannot wink with my right eye anymore... Of course, I'm still scared & still feel the whole range of why me, why not me, please don't let it be too bad, why do other people have it worse than me, what makes me so deserving, you know standard cancer thoughts." That's Debi! And the next day she is sending me pictures of her surgery scar saying "my belly looks like a butt". And that's Debi too. To know her is to love her.
She is a fighter & she is fighting with a vengeance! She has been through major surgery, targeted radiation treatment to her brain, steroid treatment, more CT, PET Scans and MRIs than I care to count. She has made multiple trips to the urgent care center at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in Manhattan. She has been on a chemo/medication treatment with horrific side effects, not the least of which cause pain in feet, hands, and mouth, loss of taste, weakness, exhaustion, just to name a few. And she is being treated for pulmonary embolism with injections of blood thinners administered twice daily for at least 6 months, by her husband Andres - who has been a saint and an example of true love, devotion, and selflessness.
And all that fight is paying off. The GREAT NEWS is ... her last scan showed that the lesions in the brain, liver, and lung are either shrinking or stable. She will keep fighting, but she needs our help. What was expected to be, at the most 2 months out of work, is for now, indefinite. Debi fears that they will not be able to cover expenses for much longer. As we all know it is virtually impossible to live on Long Island as a single income family. With the bills piling up, stress is mounting.
She has told me countless times that she is stunned by and is immeasurably grateful to everyone who has passed on well wishes, positive energy, prayers, jokes…lots and lots of jokes and an outpouring of love.
Needless to say, she has already confronted and conquered so many obstacles, with all the grace, determination and courage one could muster, carried by the love and laughter sent daily by all of you.It is enormously difficult and scary to ask for financial assistance, especially when everyone has already been so supportive emotionally and spiritually.
So, I am asking on her behalf.
Please help her breathe a sigh of relief. If you can donate, even just a little, it would help bring peace of mind, and allow Debi to focus her energy on getting well. And she WILL KICK CANCER'S ASS. If you are not in a position to donate, your prayers, jokes and love are plenty. They have the power to change a day from bad to good. So please, if nothing else, keep sending laughter, love and healing energy, to this extraordinary woman with whom I am blessed to know and call my best friend.
Thank you for your support, in any and all forms. - Amy Michelin
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