Team Chelsea

Name: Chelsea Ann

Cancer: Myxoid Liposarcoma metastasis to spine

Story: Chelsea was first diagnosed with a very rare form of sarcoma cancer in 2014 at the very young age of 25. Unfortunately, this diagnosis came just less than 1 year after she brought her beautiful daughter Lola into the world, which meant that her life was turned upside down. Instead of being able to celebrate the simple joys of motherhood, Chelsea’s new reality was filled with daily hospital trips and very intrusive surgeries.

She first discovered the cancer after trying to lose her post baby weight and realised that one part of her body was not responding to exercise. Thinking that she may have pulled a muscle, she attended the physio to see what was going on. Instantly the physio knew that something was not right and quickly booked Chelsea in for MRI the next day. The MRI showed a large 20cm long tumour embedded into her left leg which was removed 1 week later.

Pathology of the tumour showed an extremely rare form of cancer called Myxoid Liposarcoma. Myxoid Liposarcoma mimics fat cells meaning it can look and feel like fat which makes it hard to detect. It accounts for just 15% of all malignant soft tissue sarcomas meaning it has an occurrence rate of just 30 people per 1 million of the population (0.003%). It is an incredibly aggressive form of cancer and rarely responds to Chemotherapy or other cancer treatments. So far the only options available for treatment are radiation therapy (to shrink the tumours) and surgical removal. There is no known cure. 

Since her first diagnosis, Chelsea has fallen victim to the recurrence of the first tumour as well as an additional 3 tumours. This has seen her go through 2 rounds of radiation, 5 surgeries and a terrible incidence of septicaemia which had us bedside fearing for her life. The quick growth rate of the cancer means treatment is required almost immediately after diagnosis. This can be hard to achieve because the wait times for radiation and surgery at public hospitals, even on an emergent basis, can be 6 weeks long.

To give you an idea of the difference 6 weeks can make for this type of cancer, Chelsea’s last cancer showed a small 1cm shadow on her scan in January of 2017. By March of 2017 it had grown to be 7cm long. Left to grow the cancer becomes deadly, so wait times in public hospitals play an important role in its treatment.  

Reason for funding: 

In September of this year, 1 month after completing treatment for her 3rd tumour, Chelsea received the worst news a young mother battling cancer could hear. Her cancer had metastasised to the bone in her spine and the doctors were reluctant to operate given the risks involved with the operation. The new tumour is located in her T12 vertebrae meaning that, if left to grow, it will eventually encapsulate her spine and strangulate her spinal chord. This would potentially leave her paralysed and would mean she would live her final days unable to move. 

Unwilling to be defeated by the cancer, we sought a second opinion from another sarcoma team in Sydney who were also reluctant to operate and told us that we didn’t really have any options. 

Thankfully, through some miracle (and third time lucky), we have found a team of highly skilled surgeons who have agreed to operate. Dr Paul Stalley of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and his team will be performing revolutionary surgery to save Chelsea’s life. Dr Stalley assures us that he is the only person we could have turned to in this situation as he is one of the only doctors skilled in the removal of the T12 vertebrae.

Yes! You read that correctly, he will be removing her T12 vertebrae and its cancerous inhabitant completely and replacing it with a metal cage. This is by no means a small surgery and will take every ounce of strength Chelsea has to get through it. 

As noted above, public wait times for hospitals can mean the difference between life or death for Chelsea. Given the rate that her cancer grows and the location of the tumour, Chelsea has had to go into this surgery as a private patient so her operation can be pushed to the front of the list. If her tumour was left to grow for even two weeks longer, she may not have been a candidate for the surgery.

Her operation is scheduled for 23 November 2017 in Sydney and she is expected to be in the ICU for around 10 days post op. 

The operation is expected to cost over $22,000 and is on top of other expenses such as accommodation costs and hospital parking costs, which can be upward of $25 an hour at Sydney hospitals. Given that most of us will have to take time off work to care for Chelsea during this time (most as leave without pay), these expenses become large expenses and any support would be greatly appreciated. 

We have set a goal of $12,000 which would cover half of the costs for the operation and would make such a difference. Be we would honestly be thankful for even half of that.

Thank you all for your love and support. 

Team Chelsea

Additional information:

My name is Samantha Marceddo and Chelsea is my sister. We live together in Jerrabomberra NSW with my young niece (Chelsea's daughter) and our parents.

The funds raised in this Gofundme will go toward the costs of medical bills including mainly the costs of surgery (including doctors fees, anaesthetists fees, theatre costs, other hospital fees). Because we also live around 3 hours away from Chelsea's treating hospital, any additional funds may go toward the costs of accommodation and travel, it just depends on how much we have left over after paying the doctors.

I will be paying the hospital bills directly using the money from the fund.
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Sammy Marceddo 
Jerrabomberra NSW
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