Thank you for visiting this site. I am Tammy Blake, Brittany's mother and here is her story:
Brittany is a 24 year old single mother with a 22 month old daughter, Riley. Brittany has been diagnosed with inoperable Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the head and neck. She was told that she might last till July 2013, but thanks to her attitude and the cancer team at University of Kansas Medical Center (KU), they have kept the tumor stable with multiple rounds of chemotherapy. We are grateful for the additional time they've given her.
Recently Brittany was accepted into a clinical trial at University of Chicago Medical Center. The study has had very promising results in extending the lives of the participants and we are hopeful that the treatments will give her even more time with her baby girl.
The study requires that Brittany travel from Kansas City to Chicago every other week for treatment, scans, etc. The study will last a minimum of sixteen weeks and, if successful, may continue for 2 years or more. This fund raiser is established to help fund the travel, lodging and food expenses for Brittany, Riley and a caregiver in their travels to Chicago.
It is so unfair that a young woman with such a beautiful child should be forced to face these challenges. As a family, we have continued to pray for a miracle that would change the outcome. While we've been lucky and she's still with us, for her daughter's sake, we want more. This treatment in Chicago may be that miracle. Only time will tell.
The original tumor was found in early 2010 and after an aggressive treatment regimen of chemo and radiation, the tumor was removed in October of 2010. After the surgery, she began to resume the normal lifestyle of a 21 year old, however she'd been told that she would never have children due to the intensity of the treatments. In 2011, Brittany became pregnant. The cancer team assured her that the chemo and radiation were out of her system and that the baby would be fine. In January 2012, she was blessed with a true miracle, a beautiful, perfect baby girl.
Brittany settled into her life as Riley's mom, her whole world revolved around her baby. In April 2012, during a routine follow up visit, her surgeon did a biopsy, "just to be safe". The results were positive, the cancer was back. Further scans confirmed that the tumor was now at the base of Brittany's skull and was applying pressure to the brain stem area, carotid & basilIar arteries. The tumor had also embedded itself into the bone at the scull base and surgery was not a viable option. After getting 2nd and 3rd opinions at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and MD Anderson in Houston, the prognosis remained the same.
Brittany made the commitment to do whatever it took to extend her time with her daughter. She spends nearly every waking and sleeping moment with her child. Every medical and lifestyle decision is made with that sole goal in mind. This past year, she has endured 11 months of chemotherapy. With each round she became weaker and weaker until she was nearly too weak to hold her baby. So, in September 2013 she decided to take a break.
The tumor was stable but had started to cause neck pain and was affecting her vision. She decided to try some selected radiation treatments to reduce the tumor symptoms. During the preparation for radiation, they found that the tumor had metastasized to a rib bone. They radiated her head/neck area as well as the rib cage and her symptoms have been reduced.
It was during this time that we found the clinical trial in Chicago. Chicago is the closest location to her Kansas City home. As a single mom, Brittany is barely able to make ends meet with day to day expenses. She is unable to work, and lives in her family's home. Because of the cost of airfare, Brittany, Riley and I have driven to Chicago for the first two appointments. We have approached various cancer support agencies for assistance. But in the meantime, the expenses are continuing to add up. She has averaged over $500 in expenses for each of the short visits but traveling by air would double this expense. The drive takes nearly 10 hrs each way and is exhausting for Brittany.
Your support is so greatly appreciated. Any size contribution is of value. We will continue to post updates of Brittany's travels, the progress that she experiences with the study, as well as updates of her life with Riley.
Thank you so much for your interest in this most beautiful, strong, young woman. We hope you find it in your heart to help her continue to be a wonderful mother for as long as God permits.
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