Facing cancer SUCKS! Facing three different kinds of cancer by age 45 is unimaginable.
This is why I am asking for your help and support for my best friend, Vanessa Varricchio Antanies.
Vanessa has been my best friend for over 35 years, and she is the strongest and bravest woman I know. Vanessa is an amazing 45-year-old mother of two who is currently facing a battle with cancer for the third time.
At age 32, Vanessa found out that she had uterine cancer and would need hormone therapy and a hysterectomy. At age 34, she underwent a thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine treatment after her diagnosis with thyroid cancer. Vanessa fought cancer twice in two years, while raising two children alone, working three jobs, and continuing to care for her family.
At the same time, Vanessa continued to help support her community, doing charity work, event planning and helped with organizing multiple fundraisers for other friends and coworkers who were battling cancer. She co-organized several events for Team John to raise funds and awareness for brain cancer, which directly helped one of our friends battling medulloblastoma Vanessa also took charge in planning another fundraising event for a co-worker who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and continues to organize events, fundraise and volunteer for her sons’ football and wrestling teams in Manalapan, NJ and Brick Township, NJ.
When Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey Shore in 2012, Vanessa did what she does best; she selflessly helped others. Working with the American Red Cross to provide food to families and their pets, volunteering at local schools and shelters, and sorting and collecting clothing for families in need, she gave her time and the best of herself, as she always does. During the winter holidays, Vanessa always “adopts” a family, providing for local underprivileged children whose families are unable to give them the gifts and joys of the holiday season that they deserve.Last year, Vanessa married Nick, the love of her life, in Key West, Florida, and they built a beautiful ranch home in her hometown of Manalapan, NJ. (They literally built it, with the help of their families.) She watched her son, Jake, graduate high school and start college, while her younger son, Hunter, just started driving and will be off to college soon. (Yes, two kids in college!) Fast forward a year and, once again, cancer is trying to wreak havoc on Vanessa and her family. This time, Vanessa was diagnosed with stage 3 colon/rectal cancer. She underwent major surgery to have both organs removed and now has a K-pouch continent ileostomy for the rest of her life. This time, cancer has turned her life upside down.
Vanessa and Nick should have been celebrating their one year anniversary in Key West and enjoying their beautiful new home; instead, for the past six months, they have been back and forth between NJ and several NY-area hospitals, meeting with dozens of doctors, undergoing multiple surgeries, and fighting with insurance companies, all while digging themselves deep into debt. Unfortunately, this is still just the beginning.
The costs are already adding up for Vanessa and Nick. Between the medical bills, their mortgage, and the living expenses that they are having trouble paying while Vanessa is out of work, they are already over $60,000 in debt. Unfortunately, the bills are coming in faster than they can pay them. Vanessa recently found out from her insurance company that her first two surgeries at Memorial Sloan Kettering will not be covered“ because it was an out-of-state hospital.” (This is the same hospital she has used for the past 12 years for follow-ups for her previous two cancers.) After switching to Nick’s insurance, she is getting better care and coverage; however, the cost of the first two surgeries is enough to put someone in debt for the rest of their life, and she still has a long road ahead of her.
What they thought would be their forever home is now in jeopardy of not being their home at all.
Vanessa and Nick will need:
-Help paying the bills from the initial two surgeries at Memorial Sloan Kettering
-Help paying for the total proctocolectomy and recovery time in the hospital and at home
-Travel expenses back and forth every other week for chemotherapy treatments and radiation
-Costs associated with home healthcare, 24/7 IV infusions, and her continued ongoing treatments
-Additional medical bills, mortgage and household expenses
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Every other week for the next six months, Vanessa will endure chemotherapy, followed by a series of radiation treatments in NYC. She will continue to be out of work for the unforeseeable future. She and Nick will need the support, emotionally and financially, of friends and family (and strangers who will become friends). Vanessa did NOT want to ask for help. She has spent her entire life helping others, but as we have always told her, “Sometimes it’s okay to ask for help.”
Please consider helping someone who has given so much of herself throughout her life to her friends, family, and strangers. No amount is too small and all funds raised are
going DIRECTLY to Vanessa and Nick to help with their current and future medical bills. As Vanessa recovers from surgery and begins chemo and radiation treatments, she will need help filling in the gaps created by a loss of almost a year of income.
The best and most direct way you can help is through this GoFundMe effort.
Please share this far and wide. $5 from a stranger, $10 from a neighbor, $20 from a coworker or friend, it all makes a difference.
Finally, please continue to keep Vanessa in your prayers, and hold her and her family in your hearts.