Cancer Sucks

31 years ago I met the most awesome little girl in the world. We had just moved to St. Cloud Minnesota from Up North Minnesota and I didnt know a single soul. 9 years old the summer before 4th grade and my life was over because my parents had made me leave all of my friends I had known since preschool. As my mom was driving home from the gas station, I looked into this apartment complex and saw the strangest thing.....I wasnt sure if my imagination was getting the better of me so when we got home, I set out on foot back to that aparment complex to see what the hell was going on and you wouldnt believe it. I walk up to a little girl laying in a hospital bed under the trees in the shade. Her entire body was covered in a cast from her having scoliosis surgery at age 9. It took 2 seconds for a friendship of a lifetime to begin and Nicole and I spent the entire summer together laying under those trees....her in her hospital bed and me underneath it reading to her and cracking jokes.
31 years later I am not reading her books (i am still cracking jokes, cuz i can always make her laugh) and I am setting up this fund for my best friend Nicole Reiter (Brennan). In December of 2011 at the age of 37 Nicole was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma which developed in Nicoles lungs. (Lung Cancer). 1 month later in January of 2012 it was removed, 4 months of chemo and Nicole was cancer free.....for 3 days.  
A follow up MRI revealed that her lung cancer had spread to her brain. Now at the ripe old age of 38 Nicole started radiation treatments. They didn't work. In June of 2013 surgery was performed to remove the brain tumor, although a majority of the tumor was removed, they were not able to get it all. Nicole endured 2 more months of radiation only to find out that the remaining portion of the tumor had grown even larger than before her surgery.
 The next option was Cyberknife which is a non-invasive option for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors. Basically it delivers high doses of radiation to a broad range of tumors throughout the body. Nicoles doctors performed Cyberknife on her several times to try and keep the malignant tumor in her brain at bay. 
In March 2014.....I got a phone call that Nicole had been given two months to live from her doctors and that there was nothing more that could be done. Fearing the worst, I flew home from California to Minnesota and spent what I thought would be my last week with my best friend since 4th grade. We laughed a lot. There were no tears, because she was was not giving up and was bound and determined to fight. Using "alternative" methods, Nicole was able to push past that 2 months and continue living her life for another 7! 
So here we are in October 2014.....and alternative methods are no longer working, and theres no more radiation or chemo. The tumor has taken over. 
Nicole's mom Fran, has been her caretaker since 2011. Fortunately Nic has mostly been able to function on her own and Fran continued to work full time. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case, Nicole can no longer walk, she can't control her body anymore, she can barely see and has seizures almost daily now.
This brings me to why I have started this fund. In order to make Nicole comfortable during this incredibly awful journey in her life....Fran needs to stay home from work and take care of her daughter. 
 Her beautiful 41 year old daughter, my best friend in the entire world, a mother with a young daughter of her own, a woman with the most beautiful smile.... who is dying of cancer and I/we can't do anything about it. 
Im helpless here. The only thing I know how to do is to organize. Organize and bring people together and make them laugh sometimes. So here I am ...doing a portion of what I'm good at and organizing this fund for Fran and Nicole so that Fran can take the time off she needs without worrying about how she is going to pay the bills and focus on making Nicole comfortable before she goes. 
If you read this in it's entirety, I thank you. Im sure it seems scattered and like I am rambling. I am in all honesty...crying. Grieving. Hoping....that the people who are in my life will see how much this matters and means to me and will help out with anything they can. I love Nicole like the sister I never had.  Her long black hair, my long blonde hair. We were the original Salt N Pepa. She taught me about sunflower seeds and Strawberry Welches Pop, suntanning, laughing until you pee your pants. Wherever one of us went you could always find the other. Even when I joined the military and got stationed in California. The first person to come visit me?....Nicole. I love you Nickle Pickle. Always have...always will. 
Shannon
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Organizer

Shannon Farber 
Organizer
Imperial Beach, CA
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