Caitlin Gilson is a beautiful, young woman of 30. She is also my daughter. She started feeling unwell a few weeks ago and went to the emergency room. They diagnosed her with an ulcer and suggested follow up care with her primary care physician. When he looked over her blood work, he became concerned and ordered additional tests. The tests revealed that she had developed AML, acute myeloid leukemia. This disease has a rapid onset. Her ER blood work showed her platelet count at 80k. The normal range is 140-400k. The blood work ordered by her doctor a week later, showed the count at 40k. He immediately sent her to a hematologist. Further blood work on 3/19/18 showed her platelet count had dropped to 27k. A bone marrow biopsy was performed the same day, confirming her doctor's diagnosis. On 3/20/18 she was admitted to the hospital, and today, 3/21/18, she was given her first chemotherapy treatment. She must remain in the hospital for at least 30 days as the chemo treatments will wipe out her remaining platelets, leaving her immune system too weak to fight off sickness from outside sources. She cannot have flowers or fresh fruit and vegetables because they contain bacteria. Once she is able to leave the hospital, she must return each month for a week's stay to receive additional chemo treatments. The best case scenario will have her out of work for approximately six months. I say best case, because based on the results of her DNA chromosome tests, she may need even more specialized care than she is currently receiving, which means moving her to either Shands, the MAYO Clinic, or Moffit Cancer center. Caitlin works for the Pensacola Police Department as a 911 dispatcher, and formerly she worked for the Lake County Sheriff's Office before moving to the Panhandle. She is well respected by the officers she cares for, as her only concern is for their safety. She has a month's worth of sick leave saved, which will carry her through next month, but after that she will not have any income. The purpose of this account is to help cover her every day bills for the next six months, and hopefully give her a start on paying her medical expenses, which will be exorbitant. She does not live extravagantly, but has the same basic needs we all do, like rent, utilities, a car payment and the like. As her mother, I wish I had could provide assistance for all of these things, which I cannot do unfortunately. My home burned down in 2016, in 2017, my amazing son, Caitlin's brother, and his wife gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy, who passed away after only four days with us. Caitlin's diagnosis comes less than a year after that traumatic and heartbreaking event. We debated long and hard about starting this fund, as we do not appreciate being spotlighted nor asking for help. However; these are extenuating circumstances and while uncomfortable for Caitlin, who is extremely independent and self- reliant, she did finally relent to its creation. It is not just about the bills, it is for her well- being and piece of mind. She needs to focus on staying strong and beating this disease and not on whether she will have a home to go back to. I realize that not everyone can help financially, but there are other ways to contribute. Prayers are always needed, a card or letter of encouragement. She loves fresh flowers, but cannot have them, so a color postcard with a flower would be perfect. She can receive mail at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, in care of the Oncology Ward.
With our sincerest and most heartfelt thanks on Caitlin's behalf,