March 2013 - My first PET scan proved to be cancer-free. However, I had a massive hernia about the size of a fist at the colostomy site. Removing the colostomy was not an option until I remained cancer-free for a while. By summer 2013, I was still cancer-free and the colostomy reversal and hernia repair was scheduled for September. After surgery, the site became horribly infected and I was hospitalized again for an acute infection, the fourth hospitalization in the space of one year. The medical bills are massive after four hospitalizations.
Summer 2014 - Another painful hernia from the colostomy reversal has developed, and corrective surgery was scheduled for June. I never really felt like myself and had an awful time healing from what was supposed be a simple hernia repair with mesh. By October 2014, the abdominal discomfort was again unbearable and an ultrasound was ordered. It revealed abnormalities in my liver. A PET scan further showed four tumors in the liver and again lymph-node involvement as far up as the left clavicle bone area. I was now told it was Stage 4 and terminal, meaning the cancer was finding its way around the chemotherapy treatments. The doctors said the cancer would live through the chemo until one day it just wasn’t going to work anymore and then we would start to have other types of conversations.
I am not prepared for any of those conversations so having previously heard about a holistic approach called mistletoe therapy, I began reaching out. I found Ivelisse Page and her Believe Big organization in Glyndon, Maryland. She is a Stage 4 cancer survivor who had used this therapy. I discovered the mistletoe treatment was accepted for clinical trials at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. I was doctoring now both at Carroll Hospital Center and Johns Hopkins Hospital for the anal cancer that had spread and was now living in my liver. I was lucky to find that two participating physicians for mistletoe were located in Baltimore and by December 2014 I was on my way with both chemo and mistletoe treatments, along with supplementations recommended by my holistic physician. I am praying and having positive thoughts that my treatments will give me life and survival. Insurance will not pay for any of the holistic measures and I can only hope through the generosity of family and friends that some of the medical expenses can be covered.
Christmas 2014 - Matt, my husband, is suffering with severe headaches. Once again we are at Urgent Care and the Emergency Room. We find a very high blood pressure situation and further follow up with his primary care physician is recommended. An ultrasound of his brain detected abnormalities. This was followed by an MRI which revealed four masses in his brain. Further exploration from a PET scan indicated the cancer is in his lungs and had metastasized to his brain and spine. We are now both facing Stage 4 cancer. At this point in life, everything is completely happening through trial and error, and suffering as each day brings new challenges for my husband who is clearly dealing with a treatment far worse than mine. The side effects from his chemotherapy have hit way too soon. Disability has been denied and now another fight must ensue to allow him to be home and rest to heal. The suffering is terrible from nerve damage which has occurred after just one chemo treatment. He will now need to see a neurologist as well as start physical therapy. Some days are just far worse than others and he just cannot even leave the house, much less get out of bed. The pain is so bad he barely rests and spends most nights awake.
I am told to remain as stress free as possible in my own battle (yeah like that is gonna happen). I am continuing to work full-time as I carry the health benefits and I work for the best organization in the world. Without their support, I would probably just give up. I miss a lot of time from work for my own treatments and trying to make sure I am at my husband’s appointments, which takes even more time away from my job. My family needs me and I need my job, so it is again, the ultimate battle for a Stage 4 cancer patient who just wants to live.
Our medical bills, in addition to what has already been incurred, have now doubled with deductibles and co-payments at every visit. The holistic treatments are all out of pocket. We wish a “Fund for Life” was available for those of us who just want to win this battle and live for our precious children and grandchildren.
The hope is immense for the husband and wife team of Debbie and Matt Smith. God is good and prayers are being answered. They continue to believe that healing is possible and that prayer turns the tide of the battle. They have faith and hope, but need financial help. We’ve all said ‘I need money for this, I need money for that’. This couple needs money to fight cancer. If you can help, please do. Every amount assists to relief their stress and restores their focus to fight on. Thank you for helping and praying for Debbie and Matt.
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