First, let me start with a bit of backstory. In 2006, when I was only 3 1/2, my mom was diagnosed with two types of thyroid cancer (papillary and follicular), as well as an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's thyroiditis. She had a thyroidectomy and lymphectomy, as the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. She had to do two radioactive iodine treatments, and during the second one, my father was deployed to Iraq for 18 months (his 1st deployment out of 5). I only remember it because, during the radioactive treatments, I had to be away from her so as not to get radiation poisoning. As you can imagine, this was very hard for our family, especially with my father being away and my grandmother being the only one able to take care of me.
This thyroid cancer was not just a come- and- go type of thing. She still continues to take lots of medication that acts in place of her thyroid, and has to go for radioactive testing each year to make sure the thyroid has not grown back and the cancer has not returned. The test takes 8 days total, and costs a thousand dollars not covered by insurance. My mother's medical expenses have been astronomical over the years, and even though we have good medical insurance from the military, the out of pocket expenses start to pile up.
Skip to present day, where my mother now has breast cancer. Because of the recently found link between thyroid and breast cancer, in addition to the complete mastectomy of her right breast, she and her doctors decided to do a prophylactic mastectomy on her left breast to reduce the risk of getting cancer again. When the results of her lymph node biopsy come back, if the cancer has spread there, she will need radiation and/ or chemo. Once she is cancer free, she can go for reconstructive surgery. The type of surgery she will get is called flap surgery, in which they take fat from the stomach and use it to reconstruct her breasts. This surgery has a longer and more painful recovery time, so she will be down for the count for about two months. With a history of autoimmune problems, she doesn't want to take the chance of putting something foreign, like implants, into her body.
Even though I'm only 14 and I can't get a job to help cover medical expenses and such, I thought this might help. I am an aspiring author, so I hope that telling my mom's story can help us in any small way. She has always been there for me through everything, and now it's my turn to be there for her. Bills are already coming in, so any help that you can provide would be great. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this, and I appreciate any donations you might be able to give.
- John Parisi
- Darlene Cunnup
- Kathy and Kurt Hauser
- Scott Campbell
Organizer and beneficiary
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