Paula's Cancer Fund

In July of 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had just lost my medical insurance because my husband had changed jobs.  He had just started a new job in a new town.  Our 3 year old son, Bryan and I were staying behind to sell our house.  Bryan was a premature baby.  He was 9 weeks early, which has left him with medical problems requiring multiple therapies.  He had got to a stage that I could do his therapies with him at home until we had our new coverage in place in 90 days.  But cancer was not something that I could treat at home for 90 days while trying to sell our home.

I was told that I had basically three options.  Lumpectomy, mastectomy, or double mastectomy.  My dear husband Andrew was with me.  He thought I should have the lumpectomy so I could recover faster and get back to Bryan.  So, I agreed.  Surgery was scheduled with me having no idea how I was going to pay for it, a house that had not been on the market long, and a place for all of us to live in this new town.  As it was, Andrew lived with my parents during the week and came home on the weekends.  There was no way we could all live there with my parents for long.  There just wasn't enough room.  Andrew slept on the couch as Bryan and I slept in their spare room.  We had no place for our own belongings to go.  We had to get an apartment quickly.   By doing that, I had to ask my husband to do something that no man should ever have to do...let his credit get ruined by letting the house go into foreclosure in order to get me treatment and help in our own place in a new town.  Yes, it was a lot closer to my family, so they could help with Bryan.  However, there just is no way, even with help from my family, that we could pay for the house, an apartment, the hospital bill, the biopsy bill, the radiologist bill, the surgeons bill, the medical oncologist bill, the radiation oncologist bill, and the list goes on.  So, we lost our house because of me!  Me and my cancer!  I'd had cancer before twice.  Melanoma both times.  It was caught early and it was as simple as cut it out.  This wasn't so simple.  This rocked our world!  

A few few weeks after surgery, I was told that as soon as I finished radiation, I would also have to undergo a hysterectomy because my cancer was receptive to the hormones my ovaries were making.  So my own body was feeding this cancer.  I finished radiation on November 27, 2012 with third degree burns.  I had my hysterectomy December 3, 2012.

I noticed all through radiation that I was gaining large amounts of weight still.  Something I had been doing for a while.  I thought the radiation sickness would help me lose weight, but instead I continued to pack it on.  So, I asked my medical oncologist (at the time) for a PT Scan.  He turned me down every month for 8 months!  

I decided in mid summer of 2013 to see an ENT about a sleep study.  That's when I got another punch in the gut.  I had a "huge goiter" on my thyroid.  I asked him if it could be cancer.  He stepped back and sheepishly asked my why I would ask that.  So I told him my story.  How I had been gradually gaining weight since the 1990's and about my other cancers and that I am homozygous MTHFR which has in studies been linked to multiple types of cancer.  He immediately sent me downstairs for an ultra sound.  The next week was the biopsy.  It's results were that the cells were so cloudy that they didn't know what I had, but it most likely wasn't good.

I again scheduled an appointment with my oncologist.  By then, I also had developed a lump under the right side of my jaw.  Again, I asked him for a PT Scan.  I told him about the biopsy too.  He refused.  He said I just had a swollen saliva gland and he would see me next month.  My mom was with me that day.  She insisted that I contact the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  I got on line and chatted with them.  Within 2 days I was purchasing 2 tickets to Atlanta to be evaluated by their doctors in less than 2 weeks.  After testing there and another biopsy of a lymph node between my lungs, I was diagnosed with Pappillary thyroid cancer of at least the right lobe of the thyroid that had metastasized (spread) to my lymph node between my lungs.  That lobe was now 3 times the size that it should have been.  No wonder my acid reflux had just disappeared!  In 31 days my left thyroid lobe had grown to be the same size as the right.  I had a complete thyroidectomy on October 18, 2013.  I went through iodine radiation in January of 2014.  I was quarantined from my family for 3 weeks.

After that, we started thinking back to the numbers originally given to me.  With my MTHFR, I was told by one doctor that I had an 86.3% chance that my breast cancer would return.  If it does return, I have a 50% chance of it being a more aggressive type.  I had also been told that every cancer diagnosis, increases your risk for another cancer.  

October 10, 2014, I underwent a double mastectomy at the Cleveland Clinic.  I had to go there because I am homozygous MTHFR and the surgeons in Atlanta refused to do it.  They were afraid of serious complications.  So far, I've had none.  None that is except for the bills that keep coming faster than the money is.  My husband is a hard worker, but he's only one person.  Now he works full time, is a diabetic, he does all of the cooking, he helps me with Bryan's education since we homeschool, and the poor guy even does his own laundry!  I've wanted to do this for a while to help him, but my pride got in the way every time.  Tonight, I looked at him holding his shoulder that needs surgery for a torn rotator cuff and realized that for his sake, I have to ask for help.  

Thank you all in advance.
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Paula Broadwater Courtney 
Vandalia, OH
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