Thia's Fight Club


UPDATE: December 28th, 2018:

After her back surgery in May 2017, Thia continued the chemotherapy regimen.  Month by month showed more gains, until her tumors did finally go away.  However, the chemotherapy did stop working by June of 2018...well after the doctors thought it would, but leaving her without a Western medicine option.  CANCER HAS ALSO RETURNED, affecting the T3-T7 area of Thia's spine, and so she has LOST THE USE OF HER LEGS.  Thia had radiation treatment that will likely return function to her legs, but she will need to work very hard to reverse the damage of nerve compression and radiation damage.  This means lots of physical therapy. 

Thia has chosen to try The Gerson Therapy and fight for her life, rather than wait to die in hospice.   She will also need to continue a complex regimen of other therapies to stay healthy.

We need your help to sustain this effort!
We need your help to sustain Thia's life!


HOW YOU CAN HELP:

1. MEDICAL EXPENSES.
2.  GERSON THERAPY EXPENSES
3. PHYSICAL THERAPY EXPENSES
4. HOME HEALTH CARE EXPENSES

We will post a new budget as soon as we have it, but the costs are...well they are astronomical, especially now that Thia requires incontinence and mobility care around the clock, which can be between $500 and $700/day.  It is not covered by insurance.  The costs of this combined with the Gerson Therapy are between $1000 and $1500/day.  We are still sorting that out.

Also:
• Clothing, your favorite book, a yoga class, a get well card - or if you have an unconventional idea that may help, we are all ears! All of these things help to defray the cost of living and affirm connection, love, and support, which is the whole point!

We have an endless amount of heartfelt gratitude towards anyone who helps out even the littlest bit. Any donation will help immensely, and if you can't donate, please pass the link on to friends and family.

If you prefer to make a tax-deductible gift for Thia's medical expenses, please contact

Your donation will help pay for the health insurance and medical care Thia so desperately needs to get back to working hard and being the healthy and free Thia that she has always been. Thank you so so much from the bottom of our hearts!

_____


It's challenging to write a summary about a young person fighting cancer for a fundraising website like this. Cancer is just so... BIG.
Much bigger than this page can hold. But here I am, attempting to encapsulate the essence of my dear friend Thia as well as her serious disease so you may know a little about who she is, what she is going through, and hopefully decide to help. I am going to explain her severe diagnosis and what it means for her health and her life. It is going to sound dramatic and it should. It is big and scary and dramatic and really unfair. Cancer is never anything but.

Less than 6 months ago, at the age of 44, my strong, athletic, beautiful friend Thia didn't know she had metastasized breast cancer spreading like wildfire throughout her body, growing in her vertebrae, threatening to cause her bones to crumble. With every step, she was risking total spinal collapse- and she didn't know. She didn't know that her ability to walk was in danger. She didn't know that her life was in danger. She was living each day as she always had...as an energetic and enthusiastic young woman with a big sense of humor and a big heart!  She is a wonderful daughter, friend, and sister.



Cancer can afflict anyone, and it sure did like setting up shop in Thia's body because by the time she was diagnosed, the cancer was living large and in charge. It had signed the lease, moved in, and was measuring the drapes. But as you will read about in this story, Thia posted an evicton notice on cancer's door the day she found out what was happening- and boy is she kicking this beast out big time!
Here is how she found about about the cancer raging inside her body:
On February 4th of this year, Thia and a friend met up for their daily jog through her neighborhood in Culver City, CA. The day started ordinarily enough with chit-chatting, plans for a crisp jog, and grabbing coffee afterward. A simple toe-touching stretch caused something feeling like “fire” to run the length of Thia’s spine. She doubled over, and couldn’t stand straight up again. She and her friend both knew immediately that something was really wrong and they took a taxi to the UCLA emergency room. Within four hours the attending ER doctor was showing them an MRI of Thia’s spine and pointing out TUMORS IN HER BREAST AND TEN OF HER VERTABRAE.


The doctor said the tumors were likely cancer, and that the cause of the back pain was a vertebra that was literally “crushed” due to the number of tumors in it. The doctor told them that Thia would need to be admitted to the hospital to determine the type of her cancer.

Thia was admitted, and within hours was diagnosed with Stage 4 “Estrogen-Receptor Positive” Breast Cancer. Because she was so young, it was clear the the BRCA 2 gene was most likely the cause - tests would later confirm this.

It was a really scary diagnosis that no one should ever have to hear from their doctor. It means the cancer had metastasized and spread. At Stage 4, cancer is extremely difficult to control and it is nearly impossible to expel completely. Someone with Stage 4 cancer will always have the threat of cancer in their body. It can be "managed" but complete remission is nearly impossible. As shocked and scared as she was, unsure of what the diagnosis meant for her future, let alone how much it would cost, she knew she had no time to waste wondering or wallowing. She braced herself for the relentless storm that was crashing down on her...and she hasn't backed down once.  She decided she was going to do everything in her power to evict the cancer and continue living her life. Doubt was not an option. Delay was not an option. Death was not an option. Yet the very real fact remained that the severity of the cancer was daunting. The odds were not in her favor.

UCLA began Thia’s treatment immediately. The doctors said the cancer was spreading “like wildfire” through her body, and the tumors in her vertebrae could threaten her ability to walk at any moment. But at that moment, disappointingly, her bones were too fragile for surgery. She would need treatment to fight the cancer and strengthen her deteriorating spine first. The doctors advised her to not lift a finger. She couldn't carry a load of laundry or even lift a frying pan. The risk of spinal collapse was too great. She couldn't drive, walk any sort of distance or even lie down to go to sleep. For weeks, she slept in spurts while sitting up at night.  Below is photo of her crushed vertabra. As you can see, her back is broken and curved forward at an abnormal angle.


Because of the remarkable severity of her diagnosis, Thia saw a radiologist less than two weeks later (it was really a miracle to get seen so quickly). The UCLA radiology department decided Thia needed to start treatment that very day.


Thia saw an oncologist less than two weeks later as well, who started her on a course of chemotherapy immediately. After weeks of chemo and radiation treatment as well as hormone and bone therapies, her vertabrae were beginning to strengthen. Thia then underwent a complex back surgery to remove the crushed vertebra and replace it with a titanium cage. This cage was then fused to the vertebrae above and below it, then covered with a plate to secure the entire apparatus. (The replaced vertebra was the T-9, fused to the T-8 and T-10).


While waiting for the surgery, Thia relied entirely on the support of family and friends to help her through this extremely scary and difficult time. Her life had turned upside down, as she had so suddenly transitioned from the Thia we all knew, blessed with the freedom and ability to do as she pleased, to Thia fighting an agressive cancer on a daily basis.  It was extremely challenging for her mentally and physically. The huge efforts made by those around her to help with attending appointments, grocery shopping, meal preparation, taxi rides, and friendly visits to keep her spirits high really helped her survive through the early weeks. She said at the time and has since maintained that there was no way she could have survived without this immense love and support, and that it kept her optimistic throughout this trying time. This was also the period during which everyone waited to see if the radiation would work and shrink the tumors…if the chemo would work and lower the cancer in Thia’s body. It was a very tense time, but we all remained optimistic. Thia insisted that we do. For her, there was no room for negativity, sadness or worry. Her positivity was truly inspiring! We sent her letters and cards and words of support constantly. We prayed constantly.  We made sure to engage in normal activities and conversations with her so not everything was about cancer and medicine. We started researching all the different ways people deal with cancer. Thia continued her chemotherapy, went for bone and CT scans to monitor her tumors, and had bloodwork to monitor the amount of cancer in her body. There were tiny gains at first, but gains nonetheless. Gains kept her in the fight!

After her back surgery, she continued the chemotherapy regimen during the two-month recuperation. Month by month showed more gains, until her tumors did finally go away.  However, the chemotherapy did stop working by June of 2018...well after the doctors thought it would, but leaving her without a Western medicine option.  CANCER HAS ALSO RETURNED, affecting the T3-T7 area of Thia's spine, and so she has lost the use of her legs.  Thia had radiation treatment that will likely return function to her legs, but will need to work very hard to reverse the damage of nerve compression and radiation damage.  This means lots of physical therapy. 

Thia has chosen to try The Gerson Therapy and fight for her life, rather than wait to die in hospice.   She will also need to continue a complex regimen of other therapies to stay healthy.


We need your help to sustain this effort!
We need your help to sustain Thia's life!






Donations ()

  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 6 mos
  • Daniel Patinkin 
    • $25 
    • 14 mos
  • Lori Christopher 
    • $100 
    • 14 mos
  • Tara Fusco 
    • $100 
    • 14 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $2,000 
    • 14 mos
See all

Organizer

Thia Osterberg 
Organizer
Santa Monica, CA
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