In 2007 my mom, Sharlean, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Rounds of chemo and radiation at a local treatment center went by. Scan time came around and we were told the mass was growing not shrinking. We sought additional guidance at the University of Chicago Medical Center. We were told her cancer wasn’t responding to the chemo or radiation. A decision was made that a stem cell transplant was our only option.
Finding housing in Chicago was next to impossible. We were homeless in Chicago for several days. Finally, an apartment was found, but it was costly. $2500 per month. My grandma used life insurance money from my grandpa and her savings account to pay the rent.
Sharlean received 6 chemo treatments in 6 days and at the same time she received 20 radiation treatments in 10 days. To make the stem cells take we had to drop all of her counts to 0. Initially it appeared the stem cell transplant worked without any problems. She then became septic. Her upper body began turning colors first red and then blue. Fluids were given. IV bags were hung with blood pressure cuffs inflated around them to force the fluids faster. Her family was called in expecting the worst.
As the days progressed we learned the intense radiation did a lot of damage to her intestines. An NG tube was placed to remove the burnt stomach lining and intestines from her stomach through her nose and into a bag. She lost over 80lbs in 4 months. She went without food for 80 days. They couldn’t risk putting any more stress on her stomach and intestines by allowing her to eat. As she went from the stem cell ward to ICU and back again several times she became more confused. She became disoriented, confused, sometimes combative and scared.
Finally, after months of complications she came to the Peoria area and after an extended stay at a local hospital, went to a long-term care facility. She had to learn how to eat, walk, and talk again.
In Dec 2009 we heard the words we prayed for she was cancer free. She still suffers from chronic pain, and lymphedema, bowel problems and severe memory problems. But she regained strength and a zest for life. After 7 years she received her driver’s license again!
We had 8 amazing years without that "C" word hanging over us daily. My mom began telling the kids in her neighborhood that Jesus loves them. She began tithing to churches and other people in her community who needed assistance. We began couponing and would take donations to pantries in our area. She helped people who lost their home in fires or storms, and the homeless. She always told people about her journey and how hope is never gone.
In the spring of 2017 my mom turned 51. In the fall of 2017 we discovered she had cancer again. This time follicular Lymphoma and Myelodysplastic Syndrome. All of the chemo and radiation and the stem cell transplant that saved her in 2007 – 2009 created a new monster to contend with. The treatment caused a chromosomal abnormality and the chemicals in the treatment morphed into their own ugly form of cancer. Our only option is a bone marrow transplant. 25 million people are on the bone marrow registry but not a single match can be found.
Her history, lack of match, and progression of disease all add up to forseen complications. We are taking this transplant journey in Chicago in March 2018. We are holding onto our hope and know this isn’t the end of this journey. It takes a village to raise a child, but once we’re adults we need that village still. Here's where you come in.
To be considered for transplant we had to agree to have 24/7 care provided for my mom as she will be impatient for 30 days, but will be required to live within a one hour radius of the hospital for a minimum of 6 months afterwards. Housing rates for a one bedroom unit are around $3000. Parking will be almost $1800. Plus, groceries, and gas, hygeine products, meds and lost wages. Care takers will miss a significant amount of work and have homes to maintain themselves, there’s also my mom’s residence in South Pekin to maintain on top of all of these additional costs.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
*Please consider donating through the go fund me page *Please consider sharing it daily on your social media. *Ask your friends to share it as well.
*Pray for us as we're on this journey
Sharlean in fall of 2017
Sharlean in Jan 2018
The following pictures are from her transplant in 2009
Thank you so much for your encouragement and kindness!
JESUS LOVES YOU!