Her medical ordeal began last August, when she was stricken with epiglottitis – a very rare, and life-threatening condition where the epiglottis (the lid covering her windpipe) swelled, blocking airflow into her lungs.
After five days in the hospital, Ann was released, but her ordeal was only just beginning. Over the next several months, it became clear that Ann was very sick. Eating and digesting food became increasingly painful, her weight dropped to 95 pounds, and she was losing massive amounts of blood through her digestive tract.
Ann was hospitalized two more times in 2018 – six days in October, and another five days in December – to restore the blood loss and to stabilize her condition. In October, doctors found lesions throughout Ann’s digestive system and diagnosed her with Crohn’s disease. Ann began a treatment protocol that included steroids and immunosuppressing medication. Her condition should have improved, but it got worse.
A few days after Ann was released from the hospital in December, the headaches began. She had stabbing pains behind her left eye. After an MRI in January, doctors in Las Vegas told her everything was fine, but Ann knew something was not right.
Ann endured excruciating pain for four months before she could get an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. On April 24th, doctors found a mass and lesions growing behind her left eye with something wrapping around her blood vessels restricting the blood supply. They also found a large mass growing on the right side of her intestines.
On April 30th, doctors performed a delicate biopsy, revealing a fungal mass growing between Ann’s eye and brain. The official diagnosis was “invasive aspergillosis of the sinuses.” The Mayo clinic doctors believe that the immunosuppressing medication that Ann had been given for Crohn’s disease allowed this invasive infection to take root and grow inside her body.
Although it is not cancer, this is still a life-threatening condition, particularly because it requires discontinuation of Ann’s current treatment for Crohn’s. Ann has been hospitalized, and on IV antifungal medications since April 30th. If the anti-fungal medication does not shrink the mass, Ann will need a high-risk surgery to treat it. Because Ann can no longer treat her Crohn’s with medication, she will likely need surgery for that condition as well, to remove the parts of her intestine that are flaring up.
Yesterday, Ann had a colonoscopy so doctors could biopsy the mass growing in her intestine. Today Ann is having has another MRI to see if the antifungal medication has done anything to shrink the mass growing in her head.
Even if Ann can avoid surgery, she has a very long road to recovery ahead of her. When Ann is released from the hospital, she will have a PICC line placed in her arm so that she can have daily infusions of IV antifungal medication. These expensive treatments will take months.
Ann has been unable to work since mid-April. Because she is not currently working, she is solely responsible to pay for her own insurance coverage for herself and her family. If her coverage lapses, she will be unable to afford these lifesaving treatments at the Mayo Clinic. Even with insurance coverage, Ann is still responsible for copays and 10% coinsurance, along with travel expenses and lodging. After spending almost a month in the hospital since last August, these costs are mounting. Although Ann has been approved for long term disability, she has not yet received any funds from that source.
Ann is one of the most selfless people I know, always ready to help others in need, and never asking for anything in return. She needs our help now. Any gift you can make to help Ann and her family through these difficult times would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support!
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- Shawntel Bali
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Fundraising team: Team Ann (3)
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