Patrice's Cancer Recovery Fund

My Mom is the strongest woman I know. She is funny, adventurous, and an all-around badass lady. She has always worked extremely hard as a single parent and puts the needs of others before her own. Now she needs the support of friends and family more than ever. Early this year she was diagnosed with breast cancer requiring a double mastectomy followed by a short chemotherapy treatment. There have been setbacks at every stage of her treatment and she is facing an unexpected financial burden because of this.

It started with a hematoma requiring emergency surgery 10 days after her double mastectomy. This increased her recovery time by several weeks and drained the paid time off that she had from work. Her first chemo session caused the mastectomy incisions to split and become infected requiring more doctor’s visits and additional time off work without pay. Patrice then decided to use short-term disability which reduced her income significantly in order to make it to her many appointments and to rest and recover. She has now gone through her second round of chemo and is experiencing the same adverse effects as the first round. She is doing her best to make it to work as often as possible in order to pay for her monthly expenses and the many medical bills. We anticipate further delays with her remaining chemo treatments and she will need to take time off without pay to recover from her reconstructive surgery.

We are asking our friends and family to donate what they can to help ease the financial burden for Patrice. We appreciate all of the support we have received so far and thank you all for your love and generosity.

If you are interested in learning more about Patrice’s journey please read below.

At the end of 2017 we were having an amazing adventure in South America including climbing Machu Picchu. Patrice went to her annual mammogram appointment in April where they discovered calcifications in one breast. They requested additional imaging and a biopsy. We were assured that 98% of cases like this are benign. When we got the news that it was cancer it hit us like a ton of bricks. Later we find out that it was DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma in Situ in the left breast, non-invasive, and Stage 0. Basically the best cancer news you can receive. At this point her surgery option was a lumpectomy. She was recommended to get an MRI as an extra precaution.  Unfortunately, this revealed more cancer in the right breast. This time it turned out to be invasive lobular carcinoma, triple negative (limited treatment options), stage 2 breast cancer, and very aggressive.

Her doctors and surgeons immediately moved forward with a double mastectomy. Her surgery was on May 4th (we had good vibes from the force that day). Everything went well during her surgery, they removed one lymph node from each side, and each tested negative for cancer cells! Hooray, it did not have an opportunity to migrate through them yet! She was healing up well with the help of many wonderful friends and family members.

Ten days after her surgery date, she ended up in the emergency room. There was an arterial tear on her left side causing a massive hematoma with active bleeding. This prompted an emergency surgery and a major setback in her healing time. She was out of work for about a month before she was able to return to limited tasks. She was going to physical therapy and healing up nicely after her set back.

The next stage of her treatment was chemo. Even though they caught it early, the chance that a rogue cell could have migrated through a blood vessel prompted a precautionary treatment. We were told she would receive 4 rounds of TC (Taxotere and cyclophosphamide), one every three weeks and we would be through this nightmare by the end of August looking forward to her reconstructive surgery at the end of September. We were told that she would lose her hair after the first treatment. She chopped off a lot of length and bought a sassy wig named Jen in preparation for this transition (it looks like Jennifer Aniston’s hair from Friends).

During the first treatment she began to have an allergic reaction. The nurses said this was normal, gave her some Benadryl, and we were able to finish her treatment without any additional hiccups. She started experiencing the usual side effects: metallic taste, mouth sores, hair loss, low energy, and excruciating headaches a few days after her treatment. Then her mastectomy incisions started to become infected and split open. This was a bad reaction to the chemo treatment, one they failed to warn us about. She had to go back on antibiotics and see her plastic surgeon for more appointments. (Disclaimer: we love Dr. Maxheimer, but didn’t want to visit him quite this much). All of these setbacks have taken her out of work going back and forth from the cancer center to get additional blood work, to the plastic surgeon, with increased healing time.

She was finally cleared to move forward with her second treatment. Her second chemo treatment has caused the same adverse effects to her incisions. This continues to push back her remaining treatment dates and ultimately her reconstructive surgery still to come. All of these setbacks and unexpected reactions have led to increased financial burden and more missed time from work. Having already used up her PTO, she was forced to use short-term disability while recovering from her bad chemo reaction. Now that her FMLA (family and medical leave act) has run out, her job and her health insurance are no longer protected if she continues to use short-term disability. With more hurdles up ahead, she made the decision to go back to work as much as she can. She will have to go unpaid for future appointments and for her recovery time after reconstructive surgery.

Sharing this story is extremely hard for my Mom. She needs a little help through this difficult journey and any amount that you can contribute will help no matter how small. If our friends and family come together we can help shoulder this financial burden which is just a small measure of what Patrice is facing.

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about Patrice’s story and sharing this with her other friends and family.
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Lauren Pusillo
Broomfield, CO

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