Living with Stage IV

Eleven years ago when I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer I honestly did not think I'd be here today. I was incredibly lucky that the treatments worked, and then I was blessed with nearly 10 years in remission. 

But last summer I found out that my cancer had come back, this time in my lungs. For the past year, I've been in treatment, and right now things are looking pretty good: the chemo I'm on has stopped the cancer from progressing, and my last PET scan showed a significant decrease in cancer activity.

The official plan at this point is to maintain this situation as long as possible, until the drug stops working or I can no longer tolerate the side effects. My personal plan is to stay on this drug until a medical miracle comes along that might actually knock this out and put me back into remission. 

With a lot of help from family and friends, we've managed pretty well this year.  Now we have a lot going on and could really use some help. 

I'll start with the exciting stuff: 
After signing up several years ago, this year I was finally invited to participate in This is an annual event where tattoo artists in different cities donate their services to breast cancer survivors. So the first thing I need is about $1500 so my friend and I can go to Seattle the weekend of October 20 and I can get a really cool tattoo to cover my mastectomy scars. 

I am also in the process of applying to graduate school for a masters in art therapy. I need to train for a new career in case I'm ever able to go back to work.  If I'm accepted I'll start in January. In the meantime, I have a few prerequisite classes I have to take, quick. The cost of the classes I need will probably total around $2500. Oh, and here's a link to the portfolio  I made for my application: I'm pretty excited about the art I've been working on. 

Finally, other members of my family have some medical issues that need to be dealt with, but for the past year, all our healthcare money has been spent on me. In addition, my daughter and I both need to see specialists who are not covered by insurance and whom we sometimes have to travel to see. $6000 would go a long way toward covering deductibles and medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. 

I am so grateful for all the help and support we've had over the last eleven years; I honestly don't know how we could have survived without it. I hope that eleven years from now I'm rocking life as a cancer-free art therapist with cool tattoos and paying it all forward. In the meantime, I could really use some help to keep everything going smoothly for me and my family while we're dealing with this monster again. 

Thank you so much for your help and support.
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April Smith West 
Austin, TX
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