You are not the darkness you endured. You are the light that refused to surrender.
(John Mark Greene)
Meet Stacey, my brilliant, beautiful, witty and talented cousin (whom I don’t get to see often enough because she lives so far away). Stacey is just an amazing person for so many reasons. Not only because she plays CELLO (like, my favorite instrument EVER), is a university graduate with an Hon. BSc in psychology and behavioral zoology from U of T (how cool is that) and has worked for many years as a behavior therapist with adults with developmental disabilities. Not only because she has been known to kayak in white water like some sort of Norse Viking Princess, and is a master at wit and photoshopping (which is a great combo if you’re looking for hilarity for every occasion), but she is also amazing because she is a loving daughter, sister, aunt, and cousin, and because she teaches me so much through her incredible attitude and choice to put her absolute faith in God.
Stacey has been facing some significant health challenges for quite some time now. At this stage in the game, she could really use “a little help from her friends”, as the song goes. Please read on, and if you feel inclined to make a donation to help us reach our goal, we would be ever so grateful. Every amount, no matter how small, will be a source of great help and encouragement and will assist Stacey in getting the potentially life-saving treatment she very much needs.
In May 2008, at the age of 31, Stacey began to experience debilitating double vision and migraines, which upon investigation by MRI, proved to be caused by a tumor pressing on her optic nerve in the base of her skull. Surgery followed in February 2009 to remove a “grade 1 skull base chondrosarcoma”. Prognosis was good. Stacey was told the tumor was not expected to return. Still, she was left with several remaining health symptoms.
On Stacey’s birthday in March of 2021, a new tumor was found beside the previous treatment site. This tumor showed up quickly, seemingly out of nowhere, and was assessed as being “fast growing”. Despite the tumor being in a difficult-to-reach location at the base of the skull and involving considerable risks, it was decided that a second brain surgery was the best treatment option. However, doctors knew they would likely not be able to get it all.
A fronto-temporal craniotomy was performed in December of 2021 at Toronto Western Hospital. She left the hospital with titanium plates and screws, and 33 STAPLES (not stitches) down the side of her face.
Unfortunately, there was a small part of the tumor that they were not able to remove because of the critical structures it was growing around. In order to keep all odds in our favor and minimize any potential growth, Stacey would need radiation. However, because she has already received the maximum lifetime dose of radiation, according to her doctors the remaining option is “Proton Beam Therapy”. This treatment does pose certain significant risks, not the least of which is potential loss of vision in her right eye. But it’s still the best chance she’s got to nip any potential growth in the bud. But there is one major catch: it is only available in the United States. In her case, Chicago. A nine-hour drive.
The GREAT news: Upon close examination of her case, the cost of the expensive Proton Therapy treatment was approved for coverage by Cancer Care Ontario (Ministry of Health, Ontario Health Insurance Plan “OHIP”).
The not-so-good news: Cost of travel and accommodations to Chicago treatment center are NOT covered. As Stacey has been off work for quite some time, this is not a trip she can afford without help.
BOTTOM LINE: Stacey would need to make two trips to Chicago: the first would be for two days, during which she would meet with the team of specialists and do prep work, including an MRI and a radiation mask fitting. The second trip would last 6 to 6.5 weeks, during which time she would stay in Chicago and need to drive herself to the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Therapy Center daily for her treatments.
For her first trip, my brother Joel has volunteered to drive Stacey to Chicago and stay with her for the two days.
For the second trip, Stacey would need to rent a car. Through friends and church connections, we are looking at the possibility of having her stay with a host family in Chicago in order to keep costs down.
So lodging, meals, gas and car rental… these are the basic things she needs help to cover.
COST BREAKDOWN : We have created an expense chart with a rough estimate of what her two trips would represent in terms of monetary cost to her. It breaks down the goal amount we have set for this fundraiser. (Note: This amount may be readjusted as needed as we go along.) Anyone wishing to view it can simply ask myself or Stacey, and we will more than happily send it your way.
As I mentioned at the beginning, ANY financial contribution to this funding project for Stacey’s treatment would be tremendously appreciated. It would bring us that much closer to our goal, and increase our hopes that she will get to Chicago sooner to get the care she needs. If you are unable to help financially, may we humbly ask that you be so kind as to share this link to help spread the word a little further. For any and all help offered, and from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU and may God bless you. ♥
UPDATE: In August of 2022, it was discovered that the remaining “meningioma” had grown half of a centimeter since last check in February 2022. Of course, Stacey is trying to optimize her nutrition while looking into complementary naturopathic and herbal remedies which may (or may not) help stop the tumor, however it appears the tumor may continue growing at an even faster rate if she does not get the radiation. Her doctors would like her to begin Proton therapy as soon as possible.
SEPT 2022 UPDATE: Stacey’s team of doctors are discussing the possibility of surgery first, then proton beam radiation therapy. So two possibilities exist : either surgery plus radiation, or no surgery (due to risk factors) and radiation. Either way, Proton Beam Therapy will happen in Illinois for 6 to 6.5 weeks, every day from Monday to Friday. We will update as soon as we know more.