Then Dorothy started having upper abdominal pain and nausea. She had burning in her throat and esophagus. It was hard to eat and keep food down. Her primary care physician thought she had reflux, gave her reflux medication and sent her off to the GI. GI thought she had reflux and did her initial endoscopy - she found much more than reflux. GI discovered what looked like a mass or lesion and a lot of blood that shouldn't be there. GI sent her for a CT scan and they found a large, irregular mass that extends from the body of the pancreas, through the pancreatic head that extends to the stomach. GI ordered testing for liver and kidney function and checked her tumor markers. The pancreas is still, at least in part, functioning. But tumor markers (CA 19-9) are grossly elevated. Biopsies were performed. There is no doubt this is cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is aggressive. Three out of four people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are not alive a year later. The five-year survival rate is 9%, and the five-year survival rate for people with metastatic cancer is much lower than that. We're lucky right now. Dorothy's cancer has not metastisized, but its not resectable at this time because the mass is so large. She has a chance, even though its small.
Dorothy needs help with the costs of ongoing testing, treatment and medications not covered by Humana Medicare. Even at this early stage, these are adding up:
6/1-$274 copay for initial endoscopy
6/13-$250 copay for abdominal CT
6/15-$375 copay for biopsies and celiac plexus nerve block
6/15-$875 for pain medication (cost not covered by insurance)
6/18-$75 copay for ER visit (post-op infection)
6/19-$374.81 balance remaining for 6/1 endoscopy procedure after Medicare paid
6/19-$225 copay for chest CT
Dorothy met with oncology on 6/22 and the plan is to start on a combo of Abraxane and Gemzar, 3 weeks on chemo, 1 week off chemo, for 4 cycles and then rescan. Then she'll start the chemo cycles all over again. Each individual week of chemo, after insurance, will be an out of pocket cost of $496.04 until Mom meets her out of pocket maximum of $6,700 for the plan year (and her plan year restarts January 1, as will the out of pocket maximum count).
Mom's costs are adding up quickly and are moving well beyond what we can provide help for here at home.
We're asking for your assistance to help Dorothy, to help my mom, my children's grandmother, pay for her medical costs. Every dollar donated will go directly towards doctors, laboratory services, imaging facilities, hospital facilities. It will fund medications, medical treatment and ongoing care.
We want mom to have a fighting chance, a chance to be around another year. If we can get through another year, we're hoping for another five years. Every moment counts in the fight against this aggressive beast.
Desiree Byrne, Michael Byrne, Preston Byrne and Victoria Byrne
PS - If you'd like to send encouragement or well wishes, please do! You can send these through GoFundMe. Contributions come in all forms and positive thoughts mean a lot.