Hello, my name is Eric Stahl and my family and I are in the midst of watching my 20-year-old daughter go through a shocking diagnosis of an aggressive Medulloblastoma, better known as a brain tumor.
Starting in February of this year, Summer was having recurring headaches that were diagnosed by the local clinic in Carbondale as migraines. When she came home to Central Illinois for the concern a few months later, the doctors again said everything looked fine but took some labs. Again, everything looked to be fine.
Memorial Day 2022 weekend, our family was going to take a few days and explore the southern tip of Illinois with Summer as a tour guide when all of our plans came crashing down. Summer could not walk and she could not stop vomiting. We rushed her to the ER at SIH and after an X-ray and an MRI, a 1.5 to 2" tumor was found in and around her cerebellum.
Doctors moved quickly to reduce swelling but they wanted her at a larger facility that could handle these medical needs ASAP. Summer was flown by Air Ambulance to CARLE hospital in Champaign Illinois.
Upon arrival at CARLE, she was prepped for potentially life-saving surgery to remove the tumor and open up the ventricles that should be moving fluid from her brain to her spine. With a brave face, she went into surgery where a portion of the tumor was removed. The surgery to open up the flow of brain fluid was a success, but Summer did spend 2 weeks in Critical Care at CARLE while she recovered.
CARLE is not equipped to take on Summer's Tumor and we were in the midst of making decisions on future treatments when I had a brilliant idea. I am a Boy Scout Leader for Pekin IL Troop 62 and one of my Scouts has cancer. I contacted his parents for some advice and direction. Todd said, "Have you called St. Jude?"
Long story short(er), St. Jude and told them about Summer's condition. They accepted her case almost immediately.
Summer had second brain surgery at LaBonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis at the end of June.
The biopsy from Summer's last surgery showed Type 3 Medulloblastoma with and without the MYC amplifier. Our doctors St. Jude have opted for an aggressive Proton Radiaton treatment with Chemotherapy to give Summer the best odds of recovery.
She is having eggs removed and saved because of the risk of fertility problems after Chemotherapy.
The St. Jude treatment schedule:
- Second Brain Surgery at the end of June (Completed)
- Fertility treatment and egg retrieval (2 weeks)
- Proton Radiation Treatment with Chemotherapy (30 treatments over 6 weeks)
- 1-month rest
- 7 months of Chemotherapy at St Jude in Memphis
Everything has to be done in Memphis, this is adding to our family hardship. We had hoped Peoria could do the Chemo, but that is not the case.
Treatment at St. Jude will be paid for. Completely.
We know many people want to help. We will likely continue to need help with our animals and yard maintenance during a predicted 2 to 3-month stay out of state. This GoFundMe has been started for those who want to help, but can't necessarily feed the cats. We welcome anyone that can offer financial assistance
I was initially concerned for Summer's financial health through this trauma. Summer will need to rebuild her savings account which will be lost without working this year. Summer did have some student loans, a small credit card balance, and other bills. But those seem trivial versus the bills racked up at CARLE.
As of now... Neither I nor Angela has filed for FMLA... But it seems unlikely that we can sustain our full-time jobs and always have one parent on hand in Tennessee. My employer, Fort's Toyota has been awesome and Angela's IDOC managers have let her move her "banked hours" around for now. But, in reality, we have nearly another year of this treatment regimen, and its going to get a lot harder very soon.
The first bill from CARLE showed a total of $348,000 for her care in Champaign. That does not include the helicopter ambulance from Carbondale or any of the other visits to Southern Illinois Health.
Summer is fighting hard and I am documenting it every day on my personal blog, www.planetstahl.com.
I have also made mention that I would like to get her a different car when this is all over. She has a great little 2000 RAV4 with a manual transmission that do believe will need to be upgraded if she continues to struggle with hand and eye coordination. It might be time to get an automatic (the horror!). If we have the means, and she can drive when this is over. That is what I work to help her with.
We thank you for thinking of her and hope you will keep her in your prayers. St Jude is one of the best places in the world for this type of cancer care, but this cancer is aggressive and nothing is for certain. We have a long way to go before we are clear.