My sister has been fighting with health problems for most of her young adult life, only without the luxury of knowing what it is she was fighting. 5 years ago we thought it was Lyme. 2 years ago we thought it was a brain tumor on her pituitary. Last week all we knew was the lymph nodes on her head and neck were swollen, and she would be rushed into surgery to remove one on her neck.
Today, at 9:13pm, Saturday June 24th, I sit here next to my sister on her second day of chemotherapy at Sloan Kettering. AML, Acute myeloid leukemia. I once considered knowing your enemy a luxury.
We have the good fortune of sitting in this room, in the best hands and care this country can provide, but cancer leaves us still in need.
My sister is fighting hard, but those of us trying to stay strong for her are terrified of buckling under the tremendous weight. Katarina has to stay here for one month straight, before getting a short break and having to come back. She will spend just about her whole summer here, which worries the rest of us. Although we can take solace that she is comforted by visits with her friends, brothers and sisters.
Katarina is a proud academic, having undergone the rigors of the International baccalaureate, at Red Hook High School, and a proud student at Bard college. It was was a hard pill to swallow when she was advised she couldn’t return to Bard College for the fall semester but looks forward to returning in spring. Katarina loves cats, biology, Russian literature, and has been pursuing a career in medicine to help those in need. As a child, she gave her hair for chemo patients. Now, she will be receiving it.
We are a modest family raised by a single mom, with a less than modest income. My mother has been informed she will no longer have an income as she has been bedside for her daughter during this time.
Our distant father's health insurance is the only thing making this room available to us. MSK is far for us, and there's no way we can leave a 20 year old to face this fight alone. We've been traveling in shifts leaving a family member to support her, but we worry that the financial weight is too much to bear. We know it's a lot to ask, but we fear we have to in order to do this right. Between travel costs, loss of work hours, food, housing and the health care itself, we know deep down we can't do this alone. We are devastated, but are fighting to conquer this with all the support we can give her. So, I humbly ask for your help. If you find yourself capable, please consider a donation that may be very little to you, but know that any amount is a tremendous help.
Thank you from family and friends,
Mladenka, Ivana, Martina, Michael, Steven, Hunter, Nicole, Sammie, Julia, Nikki, and all family and friends that have reached out to show support.
It's a lot to ask, but anything helps. Aside from chemo, an allogenic bone marrow transplant costs up to $900,000 and is not covered completely by insurance. We do not know if she is need of one yet. It is dependent on treatment response. We will keep updating as we follow her progress.
Thank you for your kindness, thoughts, and prayers.
- Giovanna Gangemi
- Daniel & Kris Alaber
- Katy Walsh
- Suraj Shahi
Organizer and beneficiary
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