Samantha had been praying for a baby for years and watching her little belly grow and the joy she exuded in talking about being a mom, made my heart so happy. Then finally, on November 4, 2016, Frederick "Knox" Johansen was born. It was one of the most joyful days for our family. My sister is tough, but tiny – so carrying an 8lb + baby wasn’t easy (I hear carrying babies in general isn’t easy!).
But following Knox's birth, symptoms and pains associated with pregnancy didn't go away as expected. I remember walking into the living room the day before Thanksgiving seeing my sister keeled over on the ottoman in excruciating back pain. The doctor said it was a kidney infection and sent her home with antibiotics. But the pain didn’t go away. She was then referred to a gastroenterologist, who ordered an immediate CT scan and colonoscopy. And then the overwhelming joy of being a new aunt quickly turned to the saddest and scariest day of my life. On December 14, 2016 the doctor gave us the news - my 33 year old sister had Stage IV Colorectal Cancer with metastasis to her liver……speechless. Words were spoken in tears for the following few days.
It’s been 2 years since her diagnosis. The doctors didn't originally predict she would make it past the first few months, so there’s the first of many blessings through this very dark season. She has spent more than 120 nights in the hospital, underwent 5 major surgeries, lost half her body weight, had a temporary ileostomy, acquired a pump the size of a hockey puck in place of her gallbladder, tried 5+ types of chemo, received countless blood transfusions, went to the hospital for fluids 3 days a week, flew to NYC once a month for treatment, received 15 rounds of radiation and was in pain both physically and emotionally, all while trying to navigate being a new mom. Fortunately she was able to spend extra special time with Knox - taking him to Disney World, the zoo, birthday parties, the park, going on mile long walks, teaching him his name and age - among many other things. Thankfully due to the power of prayer, incredible doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Miami Cancer Institute and her incredible support system, she has remained strong and encouraged.
I am hopeful that Sam will be able to return to work by this time next year but until then, her only source of income is medical disability. She is living in south Florida with her 2 year old son and it is nearly impossibly for 1 person, let alone 2, to survive on such a limited income. Our family is humbled and incredibly thankful for all of the generous donations that have been made over the last 2 years however, finances continue to be a need. Here is a breakdown of the funds that are necessary for Sam to continue to receive the top medical care.
Annual insurance deductible - $2100
Trips to NY to see her oncologist (every 2 months) - $750
Copays/Scans/Labs - $300
Health Insurance payment - $385
Medications - $50
Healing foods and supplements - $75
Thank you in advance for your generosity, we are forever grateful!