Myong Sawyer's Aggressive Cancer

Myong Sawyer has been battling cancer for over a year. She has Mycosis Fungoides, a common type of Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma, which is a rare cancer of the white blood cells that attacks the skin. Over the last year, patches, plaques and tumors started appearing all over her body. It started out as a couple of big tumors, and all of a sudden, as if a switch flipped on, the disease's progression accelerated and the tumors spread rapidly. At this point her cancer is Stage 4A. This stage of MF typically carries a poor prognosis. As she is over 60 years old, she has about a 60% chance of dying within the next 5 years.

Myong started on a relatively mild chemo called methotrexate, which was only showing partial results and worked at a very slow rate, causing all of her patches and tumors to open up (see shoulder picture), which remain open and sore since the start of treatment. She just recently started a new treatment about 2 weeks ago, known as Brentuximab Vedotin. It was just approved by the FDA this year, and has shown some promising results. However, the treatment is causing large open wounds throughout her body, and the patches, plaques and tumors have become tender and very painful to even wear clothes with, let alone work her normal work schedule. She also suffers from other bad side effects like insomnia, nausea and fatigue, as she receives chemo every two weeks. The treatment makes her weak and makes it very hard for her to work a full day. There is NO cure for this type of cancer other than a bone marrow transplant, and even then it’s never guaranteed that a person’s body won't reject it, so it’s only used as a last resort when all other treatments fail. Although treatment is generally palliative, there’s been an increase in interest and some very promising drugs as a result.

Myong is currently paying just under $600 per month for her health insurance, as well as copays and maximum out of pocket, which ends up being 2% of all treatments and visits. Since Obamacare is so fragile, she’s scared of losing her insurance as well. Without it, her cancer will spread even more quickly. Even with Obamacare, she cannot get the exact treatments that she needs because her insurance is so limiting. It would be a huge relief to be able to not have to stress about paying for her treatment and possibly get better treatment as well. Myong is divorced and a single provider, and if she doesn't work, she doesn't get paid. As a result, she has been forcing herself to work, even on days when she really should be resting and minimizing exposure and risk of infection (infection is one of the most common causes of death with this cancer) because she needs the money. It would be a great help if she could supplement her income in order to take an extra day off every couple of weeks.

Thank you for reading Myong’s story, and we appreciate any donation (all of which will go to Myong), no matter how small. We are friends and colleagues of Myong who want her to get the best treatment she can without her worrying about financial pressure. Even if you can't donate, prayers would be appreciated. Thank you so much!


Ashley Jihye Thomas
Auburn, WA

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