Laura and Dad on a well-deserved candy run after her first operation. ONE TOUGH COOKIE
My name is Jeff Shaw. My younger sister, Laura Mrazik-Stuller, is one of the hardest working people I know, despite the searing back and leg pain that often has her in tears from the moment she wakes up in the morning until the moment she falls asleep at night—usually in a recliner, because lying down flat can be impossible. True to form, however, Laura decided to continue willing herself to work until John, her husband and loving stepfather to her two adult children, underwent treatment for advanced stage liver cancer. ￼ ￼Sadly, John lost his battle on March 23rd.
￼Laura's children, Stephen and Amanda.
Over twenty years ago, Laura injured her back working in a restaurant, just a few years after graduating from the Lorain Country Vocational School’s food service program. Her dream of becoming a chef was curtailed by a severe work-related back injury that has caused her incessant and often unbearable pain which has significantly lowered her quality of life and made it impossible to pursue a career in the food industry.
Never a quitter, Laura took advantage of a government program to get an education in the IT field. In a little over two years, Laura became a very skilled and in-demand IT professional. As hard a worker as Laura is, work has gotten harder and harder for her thanks to the increasing pain levels, which has made it incredibly challenging for her to drive to work, sit in a chair at work, or even get any rest after work.
Laura got temporary relief from her herniated disc and nerve pain from her first surgery in February of last year. For months, Laura was unable to work and got way behind on her bills and health insurance premiums. Five weeks later, unfortunately, her back herniated again during physical therapy, requiring a second surgery in May.
What’s really heartbreaking is, Laura expected her operations to result in her returning to work pain free and living an active lifestyle for the first time in decades, and was determined to work even harder to get back on track both financially and personally. But Laura suspected a new herniation while getting X-rays taken at a follow-up visit with her surgeon in October. After Laura's pain increased significantly over the next two months, her back doctor ordered her another MRI in December. That MRI revealed that she has a herniated disc yet again, but this time two nerves are compressed instead of one—and the pain has been beyond excruciating. If she doesn’t receive another operation soon—her third surgery in one year—Laura may lose muscle memory in her leg, along with the ability to walk.
￼￼￼Laura's late husband, John Stuller. WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS
While readying himself for his upcoming hernia surgery, John came down with a bad case of both kidney and gall stones that put him in the hospital for a week, sidelining him from his job as an electrical contractor. While John was being treated for the stones, tests revealed advanced stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) liver cancer with portal vein thrombosis (PVT). Although the cancer was treatable, it was not operable or curable. So John had to start his his treatment immediately, not only to improve quality of life, but also to hopefully extend his life another two to five years. John was enduring so much pain and discomfort himself that he found it difficult to take care of Laura, let alone go to work every day. This reality convinced Laura that she needed to put off her own surgery until John had recovered, even though there were some days when she could barely walk to her car. ￼ ￼ ￼
John had his first TheraSphere radiation treatment 2/28/19 at the Cleveland Clinic. ￼But because the cancer had recently spread to the blood vessels just outside his liver, John needed traditional radiation treatments as well. ￼Sadly, John's battle was cut short when he passed away from complications on Saturday, March 23rd, surrounded by friends and family.
Laura, in a rare pain-free moment, after healing from her first operation. THE ROAD AHEAD
For the average middle-class family these days, paying the bills is tough enough as it is. Dealing with chronic pain is tough enough as it is. Helping a spouse face a potentially fatal disease is tough enough as it is. Now, imagine juggling all three at the same time. That’s why my family and I would really appreciate your kindness and generosity in this time of need for Laura, especially after losing John.
Your donations will help Lauradeal with the scariest and most challenging situation of her life without having to worry about her livelihood. And most important, Laura won’t have to endure needless agony or risk losing the ability to walk by waiting any longer to get the treatment she needs to become healthy again and get on with the next stage of her life.
￼The author with Laura and Amanda.
The sooner Laura can get her operation, the sooner she can return to a normal life. So please individually donate whatever small amount you can afford so that, together, we can all help my sister cover her health insurance payments and living expenses during their treatment and recovery. Your generous donations will also help with some of her co-pays and medications, as well. My family thanks you in advance.