This past year has taught me alot about many things but mostly about humanity and the many ways we treat each other and about something that most likely will affect all of us in some way at one point in our lives. CANCER. The struggle I have been following of an awesome human and former employee Stephen Moyor (as he and his wife document every step of this impossible to believe journey and their courage and insight they have shared as well) and as well as having this world lose a very good man (Joe Kolar), father, husband, 29 year fire-fighter, etc.
I'll try to make a long story short but its going to take some words!!!
Last March after a friend of mine (Jessi) who lives in Puerto Vallarta Mexico had been limping for about a year and had been treated with cortisone, pain meds, etc for a meniscus tear I had finally had enough and took her for an MRI where that very day she was diagnosed with a very aggressive condition called Giant Bone Cell Tumor in her lower left femur. Following that I returned to Canada and kept tabs on how things were going as she was passed through the workers compensation medical system (even though this was not a work related issue she was employed at the time so qualified) So in order to get treatment to patients from outside of Guadalarja they send a medical bus full of patients every night about midnight for the 5ish hour ride to the city. Then there really isn't an appointment system so you just have to sit and wait and if for any reason you miss your name when they call it once you go to the end of the line. In fact for about 20 appointments in Puerto Vallarta alone she had to get to the hospital by 6am to put her name in then return at 10am to wait for a turn. Often waiting until 4pm before being able to see a doctor. Anyhow after soooo many appointments, injections, pills, etc they finally got around to doing a biopsy in August where the results really were not explained to her other than that she would need more testing and then need to talk to an oncologist. Without the ability to make money this had already proven to be more than challenging for her as her femur by this time was more than 50% eaten by "whatever" it was.
For the November 18th Oncologist appointment I decided to fly down to see what I could do to help during all of this. I arrived in PV and left the next day for what I thought was going to be a 1 night trip. The appointment was supposed to be at 11am so we got to the hospital at 7am and got to see the doctor (not an oncologist about the PET scan reading that said she had what is known as Multiple Myeloma or cancer of the blood) at about 1 where he said that they needed to go more testing and that she would have to admit herself at 3pm and stay for 2-4 weeks!!! and if she didn't she would forfeit her place and her chance at disability. The hospital had nice staff but the facilities are falling apart. wires hanging out, elevator malfunctioning (we were on 10th floor!), had to bring your own plastic bottle to put your urine sample in, have to find your own blood donor, best to bring your own toilet paper, can't bring outside food in (I snuck it in for every meal anyhow) etc, etc, etc. Within 3 days 5 specialists (none over the age of about 35) came to see her and they decided that they didn't think it was Multiple Myeloma and that they wanted to schedule her for another biopsy the following Tuesday. Meanwhile not alot was said about the Giant Bone Cell Tumor we had been told since march she had in her leg. I said enough and decided to contact the surgeon who did my shoulder in Guadalajara last March and by chance he happened to share his 2 doctor office with an experienced oncologist who was the chief of oncology several year prior at the very hospital we were at. I went alone to see him with all of her test results and within 10 minutes he told me that she never had Giant Bone Cell Tumor and 100% had Multiple Myeloma. The approximate 20 tumours had spread throughout her body (cranium, spine, pelvis, etc, etc) and had eaten almost 80% of her femur. That entire meeting I had with him lasted about 45 minutes and I paid $45 for it. Immediately after that meeting I went to the hospital and packed her things and got her out of there.. When the doctor on staff asked me why and I explained he said that he knew what she had and just didnt say anything not to alarm us.....BULLSHIT!!! I just about punched him out. Anyhow, just knowing and leaving that place after 5 nights brought some new and positive energy.
A 2 day break to relax before moving forward was just what she needed as on Monday afternoon she received her first round of chemotherapy and last night we returned to Puerto Vallarta. She will most likely receive 6-8 treatments of chemo in Guadalajara as well as bone builders, etc. From there and what I understand she may be a candidate for bone marrow (Stem Cell) transplant. Time will tell.
I want and most of all Jessi wants to thank the few friends of mine who have given a little financially to the GoFundMe page I created. I didn't tell her that I had done so as I know it was more than difficult to accept that she needed some help as I have explained all of us do or will in one way shape of form at sometime in the future. She continues to ask how she can repay what has been done for her but of course we all know that isn't at all necessary and that just living and paying forward some kindness or other in the future is all that is required to keep things coming full circle. Her family is not able to help at all.
It will be a year before she will be strong enough to be back at work and earning her own way.
Gracias my friends. It’s odd and uncomfortable for me to reach out to ask for anything and I’d be happy to talk with any of you about this if you like so comment, message, call me.
- Maribel Alston
- Dave Leake
- Beatriz Vargas
- David O'CONNOR
- Milena Jordanova
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