She is a woman who has dedicated most of her adult life to community service and helping others in need. She has the biggest heart, the sharpest wit, and now is faced with a life threatening cancer. She is so strong; but no one is strong enough to fight cancer alone. We need more people like Deidra in this world: someone who always puts others first, is always involved in making her community and the world a better place, a strong woman who inspires others to do good by leading by example. That’s why this situation is extremely hard for Deidra. She is always the one giving all she has, without seeking anything in return. Let’s help Deidra get healthy so she can continue to make the world a better place.
Deidra’s history with breast cancer started in 2016. That was when she first found a lump. With no health insurance at the time, she still did her due diligence. In May of 2017, she had multiple tests done (mammogram, ultrasound, and a biopsy). Sadly, the cancer was not diagnosed because of a false negative. Why would she be concerned? She didn’t fit the profile of a woman at risk. She’s young, healthy, had no women’s cancers in her family history.
That false negative test should have been investigated further. Over the next few months, the lump grew rapidly. Still without insurance, she went back for more tests and another biopsy. This time, on October 27, 2017, she was finally diagnosed, and the results were not good. It was explained to her that she has what is referred to as triple negative breast cancer. It is a rare form of breast cancer that is very aggressive, and difficult to treat, and only accounts for about 10% of all breast cancer diagnoses. The five year survival rate is significantly lower for triple negative than for most other breast cancers, especially those that are receptive to hormone treatment, which triple negative is not. The tumor presented itself inside a lymph node, and is a Grade 3, which is the most aggressive form of tumor.
Currently, after many painful, expensive, exhausting, and time consuming tests, she is now Stage IIB. The CT and bone scans were clear as far as the cancer metastasizing, and the MRI showed one additional spot (benign but suspicious) on the left breast close to the original tumor.
The treatment plan has taken a very long time to formulate and begin. There was a change of medical teams and facilities a little over a month after diagnosis. The first meeting with her UAB team was on December 14, 2017, and she decided to pursue participation in a clinical trial. With the holidays, and requirements for the clinical trial, plus an extra three weeks for an additional biopsy for the study because the first wasn’t sufficient, treatment was scheduled to begin with the first chemotherapy session on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. Upon arrival, Deidra learned that she was part of the 20% in the clinical trial who would not receive the study drug, which was a huge disappointment. She may have a chance to participate in other clinical trials after surgery, but it will entail additional months of chemotherapy.
Her treatment plan now is very aggressive. She was offered a job shortly before her diagnosis, but had to decline it for now because killing the cancer is a full time job. She spends at least 2-4 days at the hospital getting chemo therapy treatments and consulting with doctors. On her “days off” she is exhausted, has little appetite, and is just culling the strength to continue this battle.
She has many months of two different chemotherapy treatments. This all leads up to her surgery in autumn of 2018, followed by eight weeks of radiation therapy five times a week until the close of 2018.
Here is why I’m asking for your help. Cancer is a very expensive disease, with or without health insurance. If you know anyone who has had cancer, you know that there are financial requirements that go beyond what happens in the billing department at the hospital. Deidra needs help with transportation, special diets for appropriate caloric intake, support group therapy, cancer appropriate fitness programs, copays, and other miscellaneous expenses that always pop up at the worst of times.
Deidra is currently living with her parents in order to save as much on expenses as possible. Another cost is her best friend and her emotional support: her 15 year old beagle, Lucy. The added costs of a geriatric dog are taking a toll; but Lucy is an integral part of Deidra’s recovery.
I know we are all fighting our own battles. I know that we are all tight for money and the little we have to give to charity goes to causes close to our hearts. Have you ever donated to help families after 9/11? Know that Deidra was down at Ground Zero for months after the attack, helping hands on. Have you ever donated to help end homelessness? Deidra has volunteered with Project Homeless Connect and First Light Shelter, going so far as to spend time with a single mother struggling with her own child’s cancer while being homeless. She actually does the work that most people only have the ability to donate to, or even just ignore because it is too hard to think about.
Helping Deidra isn’t just helping one woman fight cancer—it’s helping one woman who helps hundreds of people in need and inspires others to give their time selflessly for the betterment of all around her.
Please consider helping Deidra. One day you might need help, and I’m positive that my dear friend would do everything she could to help you.
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