Please help us to save our Mom !

It’s very difficult to share our story but our Mom’s life is at stake and she is the only person from the immediate family that we have left.  We need to send her for immunotherapy treatment in Germany as soon as possible. This is our only chance. Yesterday her CT scan showed multiple metastatic tumors. We don't have much time to collect this money but anything helps. If she will be too weak to walk on her own they won't admit her into the clinic. Please help us to give her a chance to live. We have only her. 

This is our Story.

My name is Kornelia. I live in the U.S. with my husband. I am a student that works part time. I was raised in a small mountain town of Southern Poland. My family never had too much, yet, we always had what is the most important – love, care and respect to one another. I have only my Sister and Mom. My Dad passed away on cancer in 2007 and we lost our beloved Grandma last Fall.

My Mom was always there for us. She raised us to become good people. She helped her brother with alcohol problem to raise his two kids when he was drinking and his wife was away working for them in Austria. My Mom with my Sister and Grandma took care of our dying of lung cancer Dad in 2007.
Last fall my Mom and Sister were taking care of our Grandma that at the age of 90 broke her hip and was dying on gangrene that developed due to combination of her injury and already bad blood circulation.
It’s been a long and rocky road for us.

This April my Mom was diagnosed with a cancer. Which felt so unfair and heartbreaking. It developed from negligence of health care providers. Health care in Poland is so much different than this in the U.S. This summer I found a document form the hospital saying that in 2007 they diagnosed her with gall stones. Yet at that time no one suggested surgical removal of her gall bladder. If they would do that everything could be good now, but it is not… and when I am writing this she might be suffering from a cancer pain which breaks my heart.

We found out about my Mom’s illness after her gallbladder removal surgery. We were told that cancer which originated from the gallbladder metastasized to her liver. Because it was metastasized it couldn’t be surgically removed and she has to go through chemo to shrink tumors before any surgical intervention could be done. We were terrified by the word chemo itself. We were looking for any alternative medical opinion but everywhere we went, the answer was the same. To start chemo before it will be too late.
After the gall bladder removal my Mom’s bile levels went up a bit. If the bile level is too high chemo cannot be administer because it can be deadly for a patient.

With a heavy heart and scared we decided to start chemotherapy in our small town hospital. We wanted to start something. We felt like we are floating in the space and not moving anywhere and with a cancer every moment is precious. When my Mom went to the local hospital it turned out that her bile level was too high to give her chemo. After 3 weeks of taking medication that improves liver functions we found out that my Mom has a mechanical hepatitis induced by inappropriately conducted surgery of gall bladder removal.
She was sent for stenting surgery, where her bile ducts supposed to be open up again to allow normal bile flow. However, before the surgery the main surgeon that is well known for his bribery told my Sister that the surgery will more likely not succeed and if it will, the stent will have to be changed after four months but my Mom probably won’t live that long. It was so difficult to hear something like this from the person that you are looking up to for help.

In the meantime I was emailing multiple organizations - student and nonprofit, in order to find funds for my Mom’s immunotherapy. I’ve heard about it during one of my classes. I really wanted to do something, to save her from the pain to help her get better.
Unfortunately, I haven’t heard back from any of them. It felt so bad to be so helpless. After death of my Dad I hoped that I won’t feel the same helplessness again. Yet, I was wrong.

I remember the night when my Mom went for a stenting surgery. It was night here in the U.S. I was praying, crying and sitting with my Sister on the phone till 3 am to support her and to find out how did it go. When the main surgeon came out he told my Sister that he managed to stent one of two bile ducts. It was such a relief to hear it. At that time I was at the end of the semester. I had to finish my classes. I was planning on going to Poland to help my Sister and my Mom. However, I was not prepared for it financially. I haven’t had a job in Poland and there was no option for me to work remotely for the job I had here in the U.S.  
Luckily my husband’s brother helped us out to come up with money for a ticket and then my husband started to drive for a Lyft on the top of his full time job in order to support us. I was relieved that I can go to Poland. I was scared of what is waiting there for me, yet I knew that I had to go to help them.

After additional 2.5 weeks my Mom’s bile levels dropped and she could start chemo at the mid-June. I came to Poland on June 18th .My Mom haven’t seen me for 7 years and she was so happy that I came. I was so happy to see them too. My Mom didn’t look well. She was thin, pale and weak. I was so worried.

I was praying to Saint Rita, patron saint of difficult situations to help us out. After 1st chemo my Mom felt really bad, but maybe a week after it we started to see an improvement. She started to eat better, gained some weight, and her skin tone improved. The most important was the fact that she had more strength.

Before the first chemo we were told by her oncologist, nice but very down to the earth lady that gallbladder cancer is very hard to treat and it does not respond well for chemo. So seeing this much of improvement was so uplifting and despite the fact that we were continuing chemo sort of blindly we were so appreciative for those little steps that moved us forward.

Two summer months had passed so quickly and I had to make a decision if I am staying with them or going back to the U.S. I really wanted to stay, only if I had finances for that I would stay as long as I could.  I was considering staying and finding work in Poland but because of exchange rate almost 4:1 I wouldn’t be able to cover my U.S. obligations, not to mention living expenses in Poland and I wouldn’t be with them through most of the week anyway. I also had in mind that my Sister dropped most of her students from her tutoring job in order to take care of our Mom. I felt that me going back to the U.S. for another semester and continuing with my work there was not the easiest but the best choice. I also wanted to use whatever money is left from my scholarship from Fall and Spring semester to send my Mom for immunotherapy in Germany. I was told by the representative of UCSF that so successful immunotherapy offered by UCSF originated in Germany.
I was leaving Poland with heavy heart. My Sister is the person of weak health and I was aware that I am leaving her with heavy burden. But as we called it, I was our  plan B. I had to start school in order to get money for school and save them up to send my Mom to Germany around January.
Everything was going so well, but since I left my Mom condition started to decline a bit, what worried me so much. I am calling them 3-5 times a day to show my support even if I am not with them physically.

She started feeling some pain in abdomen, so the doctor sent her for ultrasounds. We were all stressed out to hear about the results. Yet, my Mom’s oncologist said after seeing ultrasound scan that 4cm/1.6inch tumor from her liver disappeared along with other smaller tumors. There were still tumors left where the gallbladder was originally located. However, I felt a bit relieved.
However, few days later my Mom woke up with a really bad pain. She didn’t have an appetite and her eyes started to get a yellowish hue again. It turned out that her stent got clogged with bile and her mechanical hepatitis was coming back.
We rushed her into the hospital on Monday. She was admitted right away. Over there she was seen by a gynecologist to check if everything is ok since she felt discomfort while urinating. Gynecologist told my Mom that ultrasound picture is unclear and there’s something not quite right around her reproductive tract. However, he added that this might be fluid in the abdomen/ascites related to her caner and to be sure what this really is additional screening is required.
The surgeon said that they won’t be able to perform a surgery to unclog her stent because number of her red blood cells had dropped.However,  they gave my Mom iv loaded with high dose of vitamin C which is known for its bile dissolving properties.
I was very sad to see that my Mom was losing her good attitude which is so important in treating cancer. Now we are waiting for CT scan that will be done tomorrow.

I would do everything to cure our Mom. That’s why I came in here to ask for your help because we only have her. I was dreaming so many times how easier this would be if I would be rich and could send her right away for immunotherapy treatment.

Please help us to collect this money. So we can send her there. We need to do it as soon as possible. Every moment counts. I am not sure if I wouldn’t have to leave school and go back to Poland but if I won’t continue on school I won’t get scholarships that supposed to pay for the most of my Mom’s immunotherapy.

I pray so this will work. I hope there are people there who can help. Anything helps. Anything will bring us closer to sending our Mom for the immunotherapy. So we can cure her and she can see her grandchildren one day as she wished for.

Thank you so much.


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Kornelia Witek 
Richmond, CA
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