Worst Year Ever: Help Mandi kick cancer's ass

On August 14th, Mandi was rushed to the ER with abdominal pain.  By Friday she was told she had cancer.  This is the icing on the cake of a terrible, horrible, no good very bad year.

When the calendar turned to 2019, Mandi was pregnant.  She was soon diagnosed with hypertension, anemia, and a few weeks later, gestational diabetes.  As she was struggling with a challenging pregnancy, she was laid off from her job due to a corporate buyout.  Being nearly 6 months pregnant, this meant finding a new job would prove to be a near impossible task for the next few months.  Two weeks after that, a very dear friend died suddenly at 37 years old. She tried to focus on just keeping a healthy pregnancy, and that worked for a while.  She had an ER visit to the hospital for her blood pressure at near 31 weeks, they kept her a day or two, upped her meds and sent her home.  Less than 2 weeks later, she was back in the ER.  This time she was checked in and told she had preeclampsia and would have to deliver in a few days at 34 weeks.  Delivery went ok although did end up as a c section, and her preemie baby, while mostly healthy had to do 12 days in the NICU.  Only a couple days after discharge, Mandi had to go back to the hospital again, for blood pressure and chest pain.  They got it back under control and released her again.  Another week or so went by, and it was time to see the doctor  to check her c section incision.  During the appointment, she mentioned she was having some pain in her right calf that seemed unresponsive to massage, heat or ibuprofen.  The doctor sent her for a scan to check for blood clots and lo and behold, there were 2 DVTs in her right calf.  So back to the hospital for the 4th time in 6 weeks.  They put her on blood thinners right away and then did a CT scan of her lung, finding she also had a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung).  Once she had been taught how to give herself injections of the blood thinners, Mandi was sent home.  In the mean time Mandi also learned that unemployment will cease paying you while you have a baby and recover, even if you'd already been receiving payments.

Another month and a half went by, spent focusing on the baby and recovering from a c section and blood clots.  Having made the decision she did not want to and could not afford to be a stay at home mom, Mandi was also job hunting and started a new job on July 29th. 

About a week into the new job, she noticed some blood in her stool when going to the bathroom.  She called her doctor and was told to visit immediate care.  So she went that night, spending her and her husband's 2nd wedding anniversary getting a rectal exam.  The immediate care suggested that it was "stable lower GI bleeding" and was probably just tearing or hemorrhoids. They suggested she seek out a GI doc, but that it wasn't urgent.  They did also check her blood and advise her she was still anemic.  Mandi decided since she was seeing a hematologist in 2 days to follow up on the clots, she'd ask her about the bleeding and anemia too and go from there.  The hematologist sent her for fresh scans of her legs and lungs and she was told her clots had resolved.

Fast forward only a couple more days.  Anyone who knows Mandi well knows about her back problems, and it went out on her, badly.  So another ER trip happened.  She was in an "ER purgatory" room as she dubbed it for 24 hours, they did an MRI that brought no new news, pumped her full of drugs and sent her home.  That was Tuesday the 13th.  That night, Mandi had bad stomach pain but figured it was the pain meds as they had upset her stomach before.  By the next morning however, the pain was so bad she could not sit up or walk. 

Mandi was then rushed to the ER again, this time in an ambulance.  They checked her blood when she mentioned she was anemic and on blood thinners and found her hemoglobin levels were dangerously low.  They quickly did a CT scan and in the mean time gave her a blood transfusion.  The CT came back and the doctor said she was badly constipated, likely due to the opiods from the hospital for the back pain.  This didn't make sense to Mandi as this wasn't her first rodeo with painkillers and she'd only had a few doses over 2 days.  They gave her laxatives and found as she did go a whole lot of bleeding was happening.  She was quickly told to prepare for a colonoscopy.  They did one and the GI doc told her she'd call with results Monday.  That Mandi could go home in a day or two, that while it was a lot of bleeding ulcers they "didn't look angry enough" to be anything serious like Crohn's or cancer.

Friday morning Mandi was sitting in her hospital bed waiting to get discharged.  Instead she got a call from the GI doc's office trying to schedule an appointment.  She mentioned she was told the doc was just going to call, that she didn't want to take more time off her new job, unpaid.  She said she was still in the hospital and they told her the doc would be by to talk to her.   Doctors came and asked if they could sit down, by now she knew this was not good news.  They told her it was cancer. Colon cancer, at age 35.  That they have to do surgery in the near future and remove part of her colon.  But first she'd have to wait a few days til her blood thinners were out of her system and in the mean time be on an IV one.  That brings us to Wednesday the 21st.  They removed 10-12" of Mandi's colon, her appendix and the mass which was about the size of a cherry tomato.  Now she had had the 2nd surgery on her abdomen in  3 months and had to recover from that, and would get more information on her cancer the following Monday.

Monday came and she saw her oncologist.  It's stage 3B he said. She would need chemo.  The good news was this had not spread to other organs and had no mutations, but it was in 1 lymph node, so chemo was necessary. 

Mandi will be beginning her chemo treatment in September.  She is optimistic that she can beat this but realistic that it's going to be her toughest challenge yet.  She wants to fight for herself, her family and friends, but most importantly her adorable 3 month old daughter, Zelda.

So please help out if you can.  Obviously Mandi feels this year is out to get her and she and Brian and Zelda could use some help.  The money will go towards catching up from the pregnancy, NICU stay, c section, ER visits, credit card bills that have added up, her 5 hospital stays, all the imaging she has had done this year, the hemicolectomy and towards future to help cover the costs of chemotherapy and any additional imaging, associated doctor or hospital visits and making up for missing 3 unpaid weeks at the new job.  Literally every dollar makes a difference and she and her family cannot thank you enough.  Your support is greatly appreciated, and Mandi will keep everyone updated as she goes through this journey.

Donations ()

  • Justin Hardesty 
    • $20 
    • 1 d
  • Ben Snyder 
    • $25 
    • 2 d
  • Tabitha Tessmer 
    • $50 
    • 2 d
  • Veronique Stough 
    • $50 
    • 3 d
  • Beth Harwood 
    • $25 
    • 3 d
See all

Fundraising team: Mandi's Monsters (4)

Mandi Siegel Stute 
Raised $6,227 from 90 donations
Chicago, IL
Joel Siegel 
Team member
Raised $1,306 from 22 donations
Mel D'Amato 
Team member
Raised $390 from 10 donations
Brian Stute 
Team member
This team raised $8,166 from 131 other donations.
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