Support Ashley while she undergoes brain surgery

Hello everyone,

My name is Christina Sowa, and I started this Go fund me page to help my beautiful niece Ashley during this very difficult time in her life. We are asking for your prayers and support to help raise funds towards critical brain surgery needed to save her quality of life.

Ashley was diagnosed with a rare symptomatic pineal cystic tumor in the center of her brain earlier this year in March of 2020.

The Development of Ashley’s Symptoms:
Ashley started experiencing headaches during her senior year of high school and went to the chiropractor frequently for neck pain during college. However, it wasn’t until November of 2018 when her symptoms began progressing more severely. 

Ashley’s headaches became more intense and prolonged, as well as accompanied by blurred and doubled vision, eye pain, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and neck pain. These symptoms eventually prevented her from driving, socializing, working, leaving the house, and soon to be bedridden. After countless visits with numerous doctors and no answers or relief, in February 2020 she finally got approved for an MRI scan. This is when we found out she has a 20 mm (2cm) pineal cystic tumor in the center of her brain.

Her Neurologist felt treatment for the cyst was to prescribe numerous medications that didn’t help the pain and instead made her even sicker. Ashley’s neurologist believed the brain cyst had no bearing on her debilitating symptoms. 

Ashley decided this was not a way to live life and went to do her own research. She discovered that there are many other people like her who have been diagnosed with pineal cystic tumors, who are constantly being denied help despite all the symptoms they have. Fortunately, there are 3 neurosurgeons in the country who know that these tumors are symptomatic, and are willing to perform such a difficult and delicate surgery. Those who have received the surgery have seen amazing and instant results, and are free of their symptoms which is so encouraging to hear after such a difficult and long journey that this has been. 

I would like for you to hear a little from Ashley herself…

“It’s hard to explain to someone the daily struggles I face. Feeling relentless pain, feeling unwell, feeling awful inside. It is a struggle to make it through the day. Sometimes it feels like I’m a prisoner and there’s no escape. All I ever wish for is my happy, normal life back that I once had. It’s very difficult to watch the world go by and feel so trapped in your own body with no help or relief. 
Although my days are extremely difficult and painful, I try to put a brave face on and fight. I am not going to give up. I have such a zest for life, and I want so much from it. I have so many aspirations and dreams. I want to see my friends and family again and do fun things with them. I want to travel the world again. I want to wake up and not have a pounding migraine. I want so much from life, and I know I can have that again. I was given this life for a reason, and I want to be able to live it to the fullest.”

This Is Where We Need Your Help!

The symptoms that Ashley suffers from are worsening and debilitating her quality of life. We are asking for your kindness and support to help us raise the funds to have the pineal cystic tumor in Ashley’s brain removed through surgery. 

She experiences daily migraines with pain and pressure all over. Vision disturbances that make it so she can no longer see properly and dizziness to the point where she has to stay seated for long periods of time. She has weakness all over her body, extreme fatigue, memory loss, speech issues, brain heaviness, face and hand tingling, intense nausea, and vomiting. This has progressed to the point where she has trouble processing information and concentrating and more. Ashley rarely leaves the house and her quality of life is deteriorating. It is devastating to see her suffer so much every day.

There is good news on the horizon! Ashley and I have found Dr. Dong Kim, M.D., a neurosurgery specialist in Houston, TX. We had a virtual appointment with him at the end of March, and he was so incredible. It was amazing to have someone finally lift Ashely’s spirits by just listening and making her feel heard. He said that Ashley’s cyst is 4x the size of patients he typically sees and because of that, she is at risk for hydrocephalus so brain surgery is needed as soon as possible. 

Dr. Kim is the Director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute (MNI) and leads the clinical effort for the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, as well as The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. He has successfully performed surgery on over 500 patients suffering from symptomatic pineal cysts and tumors. After surgery, his patients no longer have debilitating symptoms and can continue living their life as it once was. He states this surgery is as low risk as can be, the cystic tumor is removed safely, and it is life-changing. Patients spend a night in ICU, then a few nights in the hospital. 16 days in Houston post-op, and then 1 month off work. This is going to change her life and we are so ready to make this happen for her!

Fundraising will help cover medical expenses, airfare from Rochester, NY to Houston, TX for surgery and follow-up, lodging for 2 weeks, rental car and loss of work pay for 4 weeks

Please support us to help get Ashley’s quality of life back and to save her from this debilitating condition.

Thank you for prayers and support,

Christina and Ashley

Dr. Dong H. Kim, M.D,,-m-d-/  

About Pineal Cysts 

Organizer and beneficiary

Christina Jakubiak-Sowa
Jenison, MI
Ashley Navarre

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