Hope for Stephanie - Osteosarcoma Battle

Hello Everyone,

My name is Catherine Ramirez and I decided to make this page in order to help raise funds for my older sisters' cancer treatments. The cancer treatments, which she wants to undergo, include either/both of the following: a phase 1 clinical trial at MD Anderson (Houston, Tx.) and also for an alternate treatment (her preference) The Gerson Therapy (Mexico). I will begin by giving you all some brief information about my sister and her ongoing fight with cancer in a brief "about her" section followed by the diagnosis/treatment, outcome, and lastly information on her current situtation and  the cancer treatments which she wants to undergo now.

About Her:
Our father is from Mexico and our mother is from Colombia our parents have been married for 25 years. Twenty-four years ago my mother gave birth to her first child, Stephanie Ramirez, my older sister. Stephanie always has been a normal girl active, healthy, and full of life. However at the young age of 21 her life took a drastic turn and she went from being an average young hard working mother to a young mother fighting for her life on a daily basis. Anyways I guess i will get started since her story is a long one...

 It all began around November 2011 when she began to experience random leg pain. At the time she thought it was nothing since it would occur very seldom she thought it was due to her job at a clothing store since it required that she be on her feet all day. Late December she began to notice a tiny bump it looked like a mosquito bite before she knew it... it was like the "bump" grew overnight and she began to experience pain more frequently and from one day to the next and her walking was affected she couldn't walk right... she began to limp. This was around Christmas time so she decided to wait until Janurary to see our family doctor which was less than 2 weeks away. As soon as 2012 began she was saw our family doctor and during this visit the doctor ordered an X-ray which showed that there was what appeared to be an abnormal mass located on the left distal femur. We were sent to a see a specialist, an orthopedic oncologist.
During our appointment in late Janurary 2012 with the orthopedic oncologist we were told it looked like it could possibly be osteosarcoma. This was the first day we heard the word osteosarcoma. We were puzzled and the doctor went on to say that it was a quite common cancer amongst young people and the location she said was the most common (femur). She said it was bone cancer but luckily for her it was caught very early and the tumor itself was relatively small therefore it could be easily taken care of with chemotherapy then after chemotherapy they would do surgery, limb-salvage surgery to be more specific during this procedure they would remove that tumor left (since theoretically speaking the tumor should have shrunk if not disappeared with the chemotherapy) and replace her femur. I remember the day like it was yesterday my sister cried because she was scared and she couldn't believe this was happening to her as a matter of fact not even i could believe it no one could because not one person ever on either side of our family had ever been diagnosed with cancer.
I was in a major state of disbelief and denial.... The doctor went on to say that in order to confirm it and have a real diagnosis she would have to do a biopsy. The biopsy was done on February 2cd 2012. Within a week or two it was confirmed that it was indeed osteosarcoma, chrondoblastic osteosarcoma to be exact. She immediately began chemotherapy during the months of March-May she underwent 3 different combinations of chemotherapy... Outcome: Throughout the chemotherapy the tumor seemed to grow in size. We kept being assure all along that she would still have limb salvage surgery so every time they gave her different chemotherapies trying to "shrink" the tumor.
Finally May 23rd she had her "Pre-Op" appointment with the orthopedic oncologist. This appointment was a total shock to us the doctor highly.. very highly and strongly recommended an above the knee amputation. We were mad because my sister was beyond reluctant to undergo chemo however did so because she was told this was what needed to be done in order to proceed with the protocol and then do the surgery they insisted they needed to "try" to control the tumor then they could proceed. My sister was devastated and almost lost her mind the doctor said she would be willing to try a limb-salvage surgery however to know an amputation would be a possibility given the circumstances on surgery day and how everything really looked when she made the incision and looked at the tumor.

My sister was insured under my dad and surgery was schedule for 06/07/12 but the day before we received a phone call... insurance was maxed out, surgery was called OFF.

I had long been wanting to transfer her to MD Anderson this same day i got on the phone and began the paperwork it took a month but within around month I managed to get her to MD Anderson and get her financial assistance. Here they said limb-salvage was possible but amputation might be better to prevent cancer from progressing. By this time it had already metastasis to her lungs.. Surgery was scheduled for July 26 before though given the time frame they wanted to try one last chemo to try to shrink the tumor to facilitate surgery. This chemo was terrible as her tumor had already become aggressive and it made the tumor grow even more... July 26 she went in for a limb salvage surgery, they tried... but the tumor was so big that it affected a major nerve making it impossible to save her leg.. when she woke up she realized that they had amputated her whole leg... it was a hip disarticulation... my mom, father, and I were scared of having her wake up because we knew how devastated she would be I remember she told me that she would rather die than lose her leg..

After surgery she was up walking the next day she was depressed said but she was also determined to walk again and nothing was going to stop her. Now that this occurred and since her lungs had tumor and this was now the main focus getting rid of cancer completely. She was given three options chemo or a very harsh non-promising surgery or an experimental trial. She opted for none. She was not willing to risk it with chemo again. She had enough of surgeries in her lifetime already after losing her leg. She was not happy about experimental therapy i remember she said she didn't want to be anyones Guinea pig. So given 3 terrible options she chose none. We went home my dad didn't want her to be untreated, none of us did even she knew she had to pick a treatment. So out of the 3 not so good choices we went with the best bad choice, experimental trials...
Like chemo it failed... We were all desperate beyond belief by December we found ourselves in Mexico with a doctor we heard good things of... It didn't stop the cancer... 2013 new year.. new trial it also failed the tumors just kept showing up, new ones... Still desperate by March my dad found himself in Cuba getting medicine from a doctor we also her great things of. Thankfully this managed to keep her cancer stable tumors remained stable. There was hope finally the light we were looking for. Medication was expensive it managed to keep the tumors stables for well over a year or almost a year. My sister since March 2013 has been on and off trials nothing seems to work.

New Year, 2014:
During this year my sister received a prosthetic leg finally thanks to hangers! However she has been unable to use it because it caused pain. Everything this year has been relatively stable until 3 months ago when we were told that her lungs are getting worse and that tumors showed up in her pelvic area. Also, about a month ago she got a tumor on her forehead and a 3 weeks ago 2 tumors appeared on the back of her skull. As soon as our experimental doctor (he is an amazing doctor!) told her about the scans and tumors 3 months ago he immediately wanted to put her on a trial. This trial is the ONLY one in the state of Texas to be approved for sarcoma ONLY! Unfortunately... she didn’t have the gene so she didn't qualify. A month went by cancer progressed more scans and test were ran and luckily she now was a candidate for this trial. Immediately wanting to get her on this trial they dealt with insurance as we patiently awaited the calls she had appointments set for this last tuesday-friday to begin the first round. The medicine comes from Germany it is Radium-223...

We waited 2 whole months for this day finally some hope because this is the ONLY trial in the state of texas that has been approved for sarcoma only and she finally had the gene and the day before ... we get a phone call insurance denied it, TWICE. Appeal? That was denied too...
It was denied because it is a PHASE 1 clinical trial. Of course my family and her were depressed and sad I was too but I was more furious than anything. I made phone calls to the insurance for hours a day, NOTHING.
I was angry because the week before I had to call the paramedic TWICE because she has been having the worse most intolerable sciatic nerve pain that nothing will calm no amount of pain medicine and she felt her toes numb and then her whole leg felt numb this trial was our only hope and we waited what seemed an eternity only to have it denied.
Anyways, our most recent appointment was last Friday June 20th this day we woke up at 3:00 am to leave to Houston she had blood work at 8 am (the usual) we went got that done. Appointment with the doctor was at 10:30. Since her pain was intolerable and we were already there at 8:30 I asked if we could see the doctor early we waited but nothing then 10:30 came no call then 11:00 am I asked what was going on it never takes this long and they say the appointment got canceled because insurance wont cover it. I again, furious because I am tried of seeing my sister suffer and having insurance tell her no you can't be treated like im sorry but what the heck is going on here?? I couldn't believe and being told I could only see a doctor for her if we paid $600+ only for this consult.
Finally after a total of 5 hours we saw the doctor because he was kind and saw her anyways regardless of insurance or what anyone had to say he wanted to see her.

This bring me to why I made this page.

I have tried talking and appealing the insurances decision, it impossible. I tried changing her to a different insurance however given the trial it is impossible because everyone has "EXCLUSIONS" which phase 1 trials typically fall under. Also, for cigna an insurance we were recommended well, they have something called open enrollment periods one was march, the next is November again, my hands are tied they will NOT insure anyone if they cancel their insurance. Since technically she is still insured and they are still insuring her point is we can't get any insurance until these "open enrollment periods" we can't afford to wait until November. With her situation get worse daily we can't afford to wait another minute. MD Anderson offers financial assistance HOWEVER since she has a branch of Medicaid since she is still eligible for that I am unable to even submit an application, no one cares if she isn’t being covered for the trial since she technically can still go back on chemo. I am angry I mean who in the right state of mind would go back to chemotherapy if it was NOT ONCE successful and if it resulted in a entire leg amputation.. no one? Everyone gets mad when I say this but its true so yes even though this is a "trial 1" it is what we believe her best choice... She wants to undergo this treatment since she needs to be on something immediately and this would be the best for her. However what she mainly wants and has been wanting to undergo is a treatment called The Gerson Therapy. We haven't looked into it much due to the cost. Like experimental trials it is NOT covered by any insurance. I personally want her to do the Gerson Therapy and the fact that the cost of both the trial and this therapy are really determining her life saddens me.

I can't imagine my life without my sister. I hate seeing her in pain. It breaks my heart to see my parents scared and angry that they might lose their daughter to cancer because we can't afford treatment. But what saddens me most is my sister crying that she doesn't want to die. I am DESPERATE to get her the financial assistance she needs. She wants to live, she's been fighting. Why should she be forced to stop fighting because she can't afford treatment. She has a 5 year old son who she loves with all her life. David, her son is truly the reason why she fights so much. I am really praying that everyone who reads this would pray for my sister's health and well being more than anything and if you can donate please do so. Know that ALL, every last penny will go to her treatment here and the Gerson Treatment. I will never be able to repay anyone for all the prayers and help but just know every dollar is appreciated and that my sister and everyone will be forever grateful.

Please donate.

I know most of you don't know her but she is my sister, a daughter, a mother, but most of all a fighter.

Don't let her die due to lack of money for treatment.
I swear I have tried with insurance(s) but it is impossible I've cried Friday at the hospital out of frustration seeing my sister in pain and being told she couldn't even see the doctor. I feel like my hands are seriously tied.

Please Help my sister and family so we can all see my sister Stephanie beat cancer!!!

The cost:

The Gerson therapy is estimated 11,000 for a 2 week stay which is minimum. However that does not include the travel since this is offered in Mexico. The experimental trial at MD Anderson will consist of scans which run about 5,000 each from what I was told today when I called plus visits with doctors that are $600+ each. The trial at MD Anderson would be once a month so what we would want to do is get her on that trial to hopefully control the leg pain a bit and then take her to Mexico for 2 weeks minimum to do that treatment there. I will later post a link on the trial since I have to email the doctor for the information.

However meanwhile, For more information on the Gerson Therapy please click on the link provided below.

The Gerson Therapy Website

Catherine Ramirez

I do apologize that this was so long but please recall she has been fighting cancer since Janurary 2012! About to be 3 years soon :(

Friday 06/20 she was given hospice as an option and I absolutely REFUSE to even take that into consideration!!!

Please Help Her!!


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Catherine Ramirez 
Arlington, TX
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