On December 17, 2017, my sister Angie had a seizure. The phone call I received that afternoon from her husband Justin, and the many phone calls throughout that night, are moments and conversations I will never forget. Everything changed that day, for no one more than my sister and her family.
Angie is happily married to her high school sweetheart, has two amazing children, loving families, close friends, and a fulfilling career. Prior to this day, Angie was in excellent health.
Angie, Justin, Stuart (14) and Alexa (10).
But on December 17, the emergency room visit led to CT Scans and MRIs that confirmed a mass on her left temporal lobe, a suspected low grade glioma.
The dark mass on the right side of the photo is the tumor - 6.5cm x 3.2cm. We have named it Chad.
Surgery was delayed over the Christmas break, which was a tough wait, but Angie and her husband Justin enjoyed a quiet Christmas at home with their kids. When Angie finally had the craniotomy on January 23, 2018, it went well; however her surgeon was unable to remove the entire tumor.
Surgery was Phase #1 of Angie's treatment. Subsequent testing post-op yielded the official rare cancer diagnosis: a low-grade, IDH1-mutant diffuse astrocytoma. Almost immediately, my sister put into action being her "3 P’s": Positive, Proactive and Persistent. Angie remains resolute in her positive attitude on her new lifetime journey that she plans to take a day, week, month, and year at a time.
Special shirts worn the night before surgery
On the way to start Phase #1 - the Chadectomy
Hugs in the hospital before heading into the Operating Room.
Day 1 after surgery and still smiling.
Two months later, Phase #2 began. 30 consecutive radiation treatments that she completed on May 3rd. Throughout radiation, she also diligently attended other therapies that are supportive of her cancer treatments by reducing negative side effects, and helping the radiation, and future chemotherapy, be more effective in reducing the tumor.
Ready to get her brain zapped.
Hypertherapy treatment before radiation. Learn more about these supportive treatments at HERE and HERE
On June 11, Phase #3 began with her first dose of Chemotherapy. She'll continue this for approximately one year. She's so grateful for her medical oncologist's decision to go with a chemotherapy choice that's not only newer, but also results in less side effects than earlier forms of chemotherapy for brain cancer.
Now, here is the support needed:
The natural course of this kind of tumor is for it to return (anywhere from 2 to 20 years from now) and advance as a more aggressive form of cancer. Angie is choosing to not just let things happen as they may – the treatments and preventions she's doing can prevent the tumor from recurring for a long LONG time. Unfortunately, these treatments, even though proven, are extremely expensive and not covered by provincial health care benefits. Despite that, for Angie, leaving the tumor to get worse, quicker, is simply not an option. For the rest of us, the possibility of not being able to use these effective therapies because of cost is unthinkable, heart breaking and simply cannot happen.
Angie’s upcoming ongoing treatments will cost between $30000 and $40000 out of pocket over the next year. This is in addition to having already depleted their savings and built up their credit cards during the surgery and radiation phases. My goal with this campaign is to offset the costs of these support therapies and alleviate the financial pressures that come from any prolonged battle with cancer, including her reduced income from being on Long Term Disability during her treatments and recovery.
If you'd like to follow along, read updates, and witness her positive, hopeful outlook, you can check out Angie's blog HERE.
Those of you that know Angie and Justin know that they will one day pay this forward. On behalf of Angie, I and all the people that love and care for her thank you in advance for your support.
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