As a teen, Erika had to endure a long and difficult fight with rhabdomyosarcoma. She basically grew up at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where surgeries, radiation and chemo became part of her daily life. Erika's gratefulness for the treatments she received and deep feelings for the staff at CHOP, motivated her to pursue a dream of one day working as a pediatric nurse at the hospital that saved her life. When I met Erika she was pursuing this dream at The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing. As hard as school was, Erika always managed to have fun and graduated in 2010, landing a job at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh as an Operating Room Nurse. In 2014, Erika's dream came true when she got her dream job at CHOP and moved back to Philadelphia to enjoy the fruits of her labor.
On a Friday afternoon in July, Erika received news that she has breast cancer and she is currently being treated at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (across the street from CHOP). Erika's treatment will intensify with planned surgeries and oocyte cryopreservation in September (excessive chemo can cause fertility issues to set in earlier than average), during which she will be on disability from work. Then Erika will begin chemotherapy in October (which is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month) and have to lose her hair AGAIN... or does she?
Two amazing women and survivors of breast cancer founded The Rapunzel Project, aiming to make treatment more bearable for cancer patients through cold-cap therapy, which greatly lowers the chances of losing one’s hair during chemo. We are asking The Rapunzel Project for help funding cold-cap therapy for Erika, and gaining access to a biomedical freezer at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. In the case that cold-cap therapy does not work, Erika will once again face wearing a wig until her hair grows back. If this does happen, I will make sure Erika gets the prettiest hair money can buy!
Now that you have an understanding of what Erika is facing, this is what she needs from you all:
1. Love and support via phone calls, text messages, Skype, Facebook, Face-time, hand-written cards, pictures and prayer.
2. People to participate in other fundraisers to raise awareness about breast cancer and promote early detection.
3. LOTS of ice cream. I mean seriously, ice cream makes everything better, right?
4. Money to fund oocyte cryopreservation to ensure she can be an amazing Momma to her human babies when she is ready! (Erika is already Mom to a cat named Escobar)
5. Money to fund cold-cap therapy, so she doesn’t have to lose her beautiful hair. Seriously people, take another look at that hair! It’s like she never has a bad hair day…
6. Extra money in case she needs to purchase a wig, and to go towards other medical bills not covered by insurance.
Take my word for it, this stuff is expensive (except #1-3) and NONE of it is covered by insurance. If you can’t give money, then give support. If you can’t give much money then give a little, but try to give at least $100 so you can experience the most amaaaaazing cookies your taste buds will ever know. Also, if we raise the full $5,000 but nobody hits the $500 reward level, I will still donate 10 inches of my hair to The Pantene Beautiful Lengths Program!
Very Truly Yours,
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