Jen and Matt Gruba's daughter Abi is a senior in high school. She got her drivers license on Halloween (2018). I was in town and got to visit with Jen and Matt mid-January and they were telling me that she was looking forward to buying a car and getting her college acceptance letters... But things changed quickly --- now she just wants to get out of the hospital and back to school so she can graduate with her class.
During the first week of January Abi passed out at work. She had a slight fever at the time but no other symptoms. Jen scheduled an appointment with her primary care doc for later that week. They did labs and found that her hemoglobin was low. (Normal range is 12-14; Abi's was 7.2.) But with no other symptoms they just scheduled follow ups, a lot of follow ups!
Over the next couple of weeks her hemoglobin continued to drop and she became symptomatic; pain, lighthead, weak... something was NOT RIGHT.
Abi was hospitalized twice in the first month to get blood transfusions but without any definite answers it was difficult to treat.
At the end of January, Abi collapsed in the middle of the night and was admitted a 3rd time because her hemoglobin was 4.0.... more blood work, CT scans, ultrasounds, EKG’s.... but nothing appeared abnormal other than her blood count. Eventually they diagnosed her with cold agglutination hemolytic anemia (CAHA), an autoimmune disease that has antibodies which destroy red blood cells. They still didn't really have answers and continued to do tests to learn how to treat it.
Someone asked Jen if Abi had a bone marrow biopsy... which she hadn't so Jen she suggested it to the treatment team. They were out of options so they agreed to do a bone marrow biopsy. The preliminary results all looked normal.
Two days later, Valentine’s Day, Jen and Matt were asked to go to a conference room to talk. They were told the official results of the biopsy came back and they found cancer in her marrow: diffuse large B cell lymphoma (non-Hodgkin’s). Because she still has the CAHA, as well as cancer, they are treating both with the chemo regimen (methotrexate, doxorubicin, cyclophosmide, steroids, and a multitude of meds to prevent further diseases).
Abi has had more than 30 blood transfusions, 4 spinal taps, 50+ blood draws, CT scans, plasma pheresis, etc. Abi will be in the hospital until her hemoglobin is stable and no longer drops throughout the day. (As of today, fingers crossed, Abi will be released in two days!!)
Because of the hemolysis, her bilirubin (liver enzymes) were extremely high. Typically people have bilirubin numbers of less than 2, she was at 33 at her worse so she became extremely jaundice (almost green). It has come down to a more normal level because of the plasma pheresis but it is still not at a level that she can have the full amount of chemo meds. Therefore her hemoglobin is taking longer than hoped to stabilize.
She is currently on a 21 day chemo regimen, the first week is treatment everyday (she will be hospitalized during the first week of each 21 day cycle, then the 2nd 2 weeks will be down time/rest, at home). Currently, she is on a 9 month treatment plan.
Jen basically lives at the hospital with Abi while Matt has continued to work as much as he can and goes to the hospital after work everyday and home to be with their other 3 kids in the evening.
The purpose of this gofundme is to help with every day living expenses and medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. Any amount will help and I'm sure will be much appreciated. Jen and Matt are great people and both hardworking parents.
Jen keeps Abi's CaringBridge up-to-date. There is a guestbook (click on the WellWishes button) to leave a note for Abi. <3