TORCHLIGHT - Leigh's Family Coping

WELCOME family and friends of Leigh Fortson!

During the first week of August 2012, Leigh was diagnosed with a squamous cell carcinoma mass on her sciatic nerve. As many of you already know"”through either your friendship with Leigh or Embrace, Release, Heal, her book about treating cancer"”this is Leigh's fourth cancer diagnosis. While this latest news has left her stunned and somewhat dispirited, she is nonetheless gathering her energy, assessing options, and fully committing herself to healing.

On Sunday, August 19, Leigh flew to Chicago for five days of evaluative testing at the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA). While she received some good news there (the tumor has not spread to her blood or bones"”yeah!), she also learned that the mass is interfering with kidney function, and has compromised her kidney. The CTCA team recommended a series of procedures: stent insertion, removal of the tumor, blasting the tumor bed with radiation, and then afterwards chemo. But...the hitch is that CTCA's particular recommended program could possibly jeopardize the use of Leigh's left leg. And she just didn't feel good about that course of action.

So Leigh returned home, determined to investigate other options. On Tuesday, August 28, she flew to the EuroMed cancer clinic in Phoenix. The staff and doctors were warm, personable, and positive. They outlined for her a more specific, targeted type of chemotherapy. Pleased with EuroMed's thorough, compassionate, non-alarmist approach, Leigh has decided to pursue treatment there.

On Friday, August 31, Leigh will fly home to prepare herself for an extended stay in Phoenix. She will return to Phoenix on Tuesday morning, September 4, where she will undergo a minimum of four weeks of cancer treatment. By the month's end, her doctors will be able to inform her of the progress she's made during her stay.

For the time being, though, Leigh recognizes that she needs to be at peace with the inherent uncertainty of her situation. To this end, she's summoning both inner and outer resources to allow her to *be* in this uncertainty, fully present with wisdom and grace.

What is certain, however, is that treatment is costly. Leigh's insurance covers some, but not all expenses"”think gas, airline travel, work leave, and innovative medical therapies, to name just a few. Her EuroMed treatment alone will cost $4,000 a week minimum. On top of that, Leigh and Eddie are still saddled with enormous debt incurred from her cancer treatment of four years ago.

The good news is that we can help to not only offset the monumental medical costs that are coming down the pike but also enable Leigh to arrive at the best possible cancer treatment. Her goal"”our goal"”is to eradicate the cancer and ensure that her left leg retains full mobility, using protocols that are both compassionate and humane.

This is no small feat, but together, as a community, we can do it.

I invite you"”family, new friends and old, acquaintances, and first time visitors to this site"”to help this wondrous, lion-hearted woman on her healing path.


* On a spiritual level: Send Leigh your positive thoughts and wishes"”whether it be through letters, email, this site, prayers, meditation, or the spiritual practice of your choice"”it's all good.

* On a practical level: Donate on this site. It's simple. All you need to do is click the donate button on this page and follow the directions. Aside from a small processing fee that goes to GoFundMe, all of the money goes directly to Leigh. (Ignore the GoFundMe wording that says that the donations go to Moira Magneson. Leigh herself has set up the banking end of this site, and she is the only person who will see your contributions.) The minimum donation is $5.00. You are welcome to donate as often as you wish. Since time is of the essence, our goal is to raise $32,000 as quickly as possible.

* Pay it forward through the power of social media! Cut and paste this link and email it to folks in your address book, Tweet it, or Share on Facebook and Google-Plus"”whatever your inclination.


First off, you should know that Torchlight is eponymous, homage to Leigh's nickname from birth"”Torch"”she was born with fiery red hair!

Second, the de facto ringmaster of this site will be me, Moira Magneson, Leigh's friend and college roommate from back in the day. As best I can, I will keep you posted as to Leigh's health, decisions, and developments. When I get updates, I'll let you know. Hopping in now and again will be my lovely, on-call assistant (and Leigh's sister), Lynn Skinner Elliot.

From time to time, you may hear from Leigh directly, but most of the website posts will be done by me, Lynn, or all of you. Our thinking is that Leigh needs to devote every ounce of her energy towards healing. And by the by, we can't wait to see your posts. We hope to be regaled with many notorious stories! C'mon, we know they're out there; this is Leigh we're talking about after all, the high-priestess of goof and hijinks.

Leigh's huge, wild heart; her mother wit; her unblinking honesty; and her quicksilver mind have infused and buoyed our lives in big and small ways. As well, her book Embrace, Release, Heal ( has been a real force for change in the medical and cancer communities, initiating dialogue on the need for more compassionate and integrated care for cancer patients. Please join us in expressing our gratitude for her generosity by donating to this site. Our dollars will enable Leigh to address her cancer with intention and clarity, allowing her to tap into a multitude of resources"”doctors, clinics, family, friends, and her own wellspring of energy.

Last, cancer can be pesky, brutal, confounding, and unruly. Often we find ourselves cursing it"”dumb cancer, bloody cancer, god*#$% cancer, and on and on. (Leigh would definitely second that emotion.) That said, she would also be the first to acknowledge that cancer has been one of her greatest teachers. As she notes in Embrace, Release, Heal, cancer has opened her up to be "inspired and driven by the ongoing discovery of ways to trust in this magnificent, painful, rich, mysterious, challenging, brilliant and benevolent ride we call life."

Let's ride with Leigh as she navigates this terrain. Send her your love. Give what you can.


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