Treatment for Renee

The Basics:

– A series of odd symptoms over the past 8 months have caused doctors to think Renee' may have lymphoma, or at least early signs of lymphoma.

– She has officially been diagnosed with a serious infection in her jaw, Celiacs disease, and an auto-immune disease in her liver.

– She is seeing a top specialist at UCSF who is helping her to use insurance to cover as much testing and treatment as possible to limit out of pocket costs.

– She has traveled to Scottsdale, AZ to see a progressive cancer/autoimmune treatment center called ENVITA

– After multiple blood tests and scans, it is clear that Renee' needs to have surgery on her mouth to remove dental implants from 1999 that are a main source of the infection in her body. She also needs IV treatment to fight all of the infection.

– Renee's dental surgery will cost between $6,000 and $8,000 and is all out of pocket because implants are considered elective and cosmetic.

– ENVITA will cost $13,000 and is out of pocket because insurance will not cover their treatment.  She will have surgery with an oral surgeon there and then do treatment at the clinic to get all of the infection out of her body.

Cost Breakdown:

ENVITA – $13,000
SCANS (After Insurance) – $2,700

TOTAL – $25,000

The Details:

– Renee' has had multiple scans (CAT Scan / Mammogram / Thermography / Ultra Sound) and a lot of blood tests. The tests have been both through UCSF and ENVITA.

– The Bergmen family is traveling on November 6th to a surgeon in Scottsdale who can safely remove the infected implants from Renee's mouth without leaking any more metals into her body. Some people have severe lack of biocompatibility with metals that are used in dental implants.  It hasn't been recognized until recently that metals in the body can cause major illness if the body rejects them.  Unfortunately, Renee has had these metals in her mouth for 20+ years!

– She needs her jaw to be cut and bone grafts to replace the areas the implant and infection are.  She has 4 teeth total that need surgery.

– After surgery, Renee will do treatments at ENVITA that will last 2 weeks. She will be there 5-6 hours a day during this time.

– C.J. and the kids will stay with Renee' in Arizona until her surgery is over and then they will travel back to San Francisco for the remainder of her treatment. Renee' is planning to fly home on Thanksgiving Day.

– ENVITA is confident that Renee' will be fully cured after her treament is over.

The Story:

Renee' has struggled, as many of us do, with varying health problems for many years.  Years ago Renee' tested positive for some sort of autoimmune disorder but at the time, her symptoms were not fully developed, so she did a baseline treatment with ENVITA, and her symptoms all went away. That was 2007.

In 2009, we lost our son Titus through still birth, and so a lot of focus on Renee's body and health since then has hinged around her reproductive system. There have been lots of ups and downs over the past 8 years, but nothing that revealed itself as anything major or alarming. One thing that did occur was that Renee' had an ectopic pregnancy in 2015, for which they gave her a steriod called Methotrexate. Her body hasn't really been the same ever since.

In the beginning of this year Renee' and I began training for a half marathon together (not sure how I let her talk me into that). Renee' had an oddly difficult time getting in shape for the race, which we just chalked up to "well, we are just getting older" ;) But then, she fell during the race. After the race, she had to go to the ER because she kept feeling like she was going to pass out, and they had to do a bunch of work to get her sodium levels back in order. Then, a month later, she got shingles, which normally occurs later in life. A few months later, she got a very painful rash and massive swelling in her face that was thought to be a result of a medication that she had been on for 8 years without any problems. 

This led us to begin investigating what was happening with her body. She was pulled off the medication she was on, and had severe withdrawl symptoms, but some of the symptoms she had didn't fit in with the list of common symptoms. Really bad abdominal pain, night sweats, lack of appetite, continued swelling, swollen lymph nodes, lack of daily energy etc...

She went to her GP who began asking questions about her family history. Renee' mentioned that her dad has Lymphoma and a liver disease.  They wanted to do blood testing. The results came back to show that Renee' has an alarmingly low white blood cell count. More testing, Celiacs. More testing, a liver disease. Finally she had a scan of her mouth and it showed severe inflamation and infection.  She also has a spot in her chest they believe is infection that has spread from her mouth and will hopefully clear once she has surgery and antibiotic IV's.  Renee has 20 year old dental implants in her mouth.  Unfortunately, the metals used when she had these can cause severe illness in individuals.  Some have even had permenant body paralysis from them.  After the scan of her mouth it was clear she had a lot of infection. She is having severe dizziness and has continued to feel awful and not able to function in daily activities.

We are grateful for the medical resources we have through insurance and at a place as wonderful as UCSF, but they were not positive what was causing all of the symptoms. They wanted to do 6 month follow ups to keep checking for Lymphoma.

We have experience and relationship with the people at ENVITA, and know they are experts in getting to the bottom of weird symptoms when traditional testing is unclear.  We are so grateful to have found all of this infection as we could be in a much worse situation the longer we waited for treatment.

Because dental implants were elective (Renee had 5 missing permenant teeth from birth), insurance will not cover any of the costs associated with the infection. We are fighting for them to cover the removal, but we know for sure they will not cover ENVITA's costs.

The Struggle:

Renee' and I have had to ask people we are in relationship with for money way more times than we have wanted to. Let's review:

– When we lost Titus, someone paid for the entire medical bill. We never even got anything in the mail about costs for that whole thing. Some wonderful person covered that cost, and to this day we don't know who you are. We are humbled and grateful that someone would do this for us.

– Months after we lost Titus, we began the process of adopting Keane. We needed $27,000 to bring him home and had only a week to get the funds together. We had all the money in our bank account in 2 days. We were floored by this. How could we be so loved and cared for by our community? We praised Jesus, and knew no words could express how much that meant to us.

– In 2012, we felt led to quit a well paying job and seek the Lord on where He was calling our family. We ended up selling a bunch of our stuff and moving in with my parents so that we could help plant a church in San Francisco. Many of our friends and brothers and sisters in Christ financially supported us while we transitioned into this new life in one of the most expensive cities in the country.

– In 2014, we stepped out in faith again to plant Citizens Church. We would need an enormous amount of financial support to get this church plant off the ground, and a long on-ramp to be able to grow to a place of being self-sustained. Many friends from all over the country and even the world have given to this effort, and still give to this effort! We are so thankful for that. We stand in awe of the generosity of the church on behalf of our family.

– In 2014, we also began the process of what would turn out to be a failed adoption attempt. We raised about $2,000 to be able to begin paperwork for a 2nd adoption, but because of some really odd California laws, combined with an emergency surgery that Keane had that temporarily made us financially unfit to adopt, and then our finger prints being lost in the system, we were never able to use that money the way that people who love us intended it. We grieve the loss of those funds and express our gratitude to those of you who gave toward that effort.

How can we possibly ask people to help us more than they already have? We don't know. We don't know how to ask. We don't know how to receive. We do know that God is a loving God with an abundance of resources. We know that bankrupcy for the sake of Renee's health is worth it if it comes to that. We are willing to lose assets, have to change our life, or whatever in order to do what we believe is best, but we know that we are deeply loved and want to put ourselves in a position to receive the care and support that God wants us to receive. It is frustratingly humbling, and yet, it is where we are at.

We love you all and appreciate you so much. Please don't feel obligated to give. We trust the Lord. He will take care of us. But for those that do, we love you and thank you. Please pray for us as we navigate all of the costs and decisions along the way, and for the kids as they spend a few weeks away from their Momma. May God receive all glory for everything that happens in the life of this family.

C.J., Renee', Keane, August
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C.J. Bergmen 
San Francisco, CA
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