Jeanette's Journey

"God only gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers".

Anyone who knows my mom, Jeanette, would agree that she is one of the strongest women they have ever met. She is confident, brave, beautiful, and most of all has a heart of gold. Just this month she turned a young 48 years old, celebrated Mother's Day, and received the worst news in her life. "You have cancer".

Here is her story:
My mom started having rectal bleeding and thought it must be hemorrhoids or perhaps something she ate that wasn't agreeing with her. After experiencing these symptoms for a few months she went to her primary doctor who sent her to a specialist for a Colonoscopy. As soon as she awoke from anesthesia, the doctor immediately told her he found a mass in her rectum and he was 99% sure it was cancer. 

After a biopsy and blood work, it was confirmed. She was then sent to a colorectal surgeon for further evaluation and a treatment plan. Chemo and radiation doctors followed and she was given a choice of treatment, the "standard process" or a "clinical trial". After careful consideration, she decided to participate in the clinical trial which would mean a change in order of treatment (all chemo and radiation first to shrink the mass as small as possible) and she could be randomly selected to trial a new chemo drug. The pros outweighed the cons and the process began almost immediately. All within a 2 week time frame of first learning about the cancer to the beginning of treatment. It was a lot to wrap your head around in such a short time period. 

Now we are in week 3 and my mom had her port implanted yesterday and met with the chemo team today as well as the business office to discuss insurance coverage. Chemo starts next week. 

My mom will undergo chemo for 5 1/2 weeks, then chemo and radiation together, and finally surgery to remove the mass. The plan is to shrink the mass as much as possible, as the rectum is only so big, to minimize the chance of long term effects. Only the surgery will tell if the mass got into the lymph nodes and whether reconstruction can be done. The unknown is the scariest part.

With the diagnosis of Stage 2 Colorectal Cancer, most people would lose it, go into a depression, and ask why me? Not my mom. Was it a surprise as young and healthy she is? Absolutely! But she took the news, processed it, and began figuring out her plan. She shows courage like no other person I know and while she could be grieving, she instead wants to find a way to help others who may be going through something similar. To take what she is going to learn through this journey and put a positive spin on it. 

With any medical diagnosis, insurance only goes so far. Being divorced and living alone, my mom doesn't have the support of a significant other financially, emotionally, or physically. She learned today that the out of pocket costs just for her treatments is $8,000. She also needs to buy a new wardrobe to supplement as she will have an ileostomy after her surgery which could be in place for up to 6 months. She will need bigger clothes to conceal the bag. 

She's been so fortunate to have numerous friends and family who have offered to sit with her during treatments, make dinner, and so much more. She has always been the person to give to others and even when she may need help, would be too timid to ask. 

I'm writing this and starting this campaign because I truly believe when someone is down, you do whatever you can to help them. While we know this process is going to be a long one, we have hope that it's temporary and any contributions will assist with making the financial burden temporary as well. 

I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my mom's story and your prayer's, as she kick's cancer's ass!


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Jeanette Cliver Stiles 
Charlotte, NC
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