Mary's Breast Cancer Battle

“Where to begin?” That seems to be the question my wiser (scratch big or older) sister has been presented with too often over the past few years; most recently with the diagnosis of Breast Cancer (specifically a rare and aggressive Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma) and the reality of trying to catch up to ever growing medical treatments and expenses.

A short background:  Almost a year to the day after receiving a diagnosis of Lyme disease followed by months of treatments to reduce those symptoms (Lyme in itself does not seem to be well known or covered by most traditional forms of treatment and insurance coverage), my sister was blindsided Monday August 7th, 2017 with the diagnosis of Breast Cancer.  Specifically, an aggressive triple negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, which at this point has manifested itself in the form of a tumor in her left breast. Just when we think she’s conquered one, she seems to get thrown another mountain to climb.

While awaiting results from genetic testing and PET scans to determine if it may have spread, a preliminary treatment plan has been developed, and includes the following:
*Chemo port goes in September 5 and treatment is scheduled to start on September 11
*Four months of chemo, treatments alternating every other week
*Next up: surgery #1 (Likely in January – double mastectomy) in which Dr. Stephanie Miller removes her “beloved girls” (her words)
*First surgery will be followed by 4-6 weeks of radiation. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
*Optimistically, the final stage will be a reconstruction surgery. 

Because much of the Lyme treatment was not covered by traditional means, and she’s still paying off a separate medical center for missing both the Lyme diagnosis and this cancer completely (yet they still want their money), the bills have already started piling up.  She loves the medical teams she has built up around her now in Denver, but as we all know, fighting this Beast comes with a price physically, emotionally and financially.  The goal here is to help limit one of those three.

Any money raised here will help to offset the onslaught of bills that will likely continue to come in for treatments and medication.  If lucky enough to have any surplus, those funds will be reinvested (yes, invested) in other cancer patient fundraising and cancer research programs.   

For any of you that know my sister Mary, you know that coming to this platform is the last thing she would ever want to pursue, which is why i find myself here for her.  At this point, she has reluctantly agreed that there doesn’t seem to be a better path.  She is an incredibly strong woman with a personality to boot, and though her family, friends and strangers are here to support her, I’m reaching out to help provide her with some assistance moving forward. 

I know this year as she celebrates her 40th birthday in December it won’t be what she’s always had in mind, but I’m hopeful we can see positive steps towards beating this and eventually plan a real party to make up for it.

Thank you all for your support and prayers, and even if you can’t help financially, good thoughts are always welcome and I ask that you spread this along to anyone you know that would be receptive. 

I’ve included a link to her blog that she has created as an outlet to chronicle her journey, and occasionally vent.  I encourage you to take a look and get to know her, and her dog (SugarBear), a bit more. 

With gratitude, Joe Woodka (Mary’s brother)

Mary's Breast Cancer Journey - Blog
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Joe Woodka 
Denver, CO