Alissa's Journey

$14,250 of $21.5k goal

Raised by 113 people in 1 month
Denise Prescott
on behalf of Alissa Heitmann
 OAKLAND, CA
Alissa is my beautiful, smart, sweet, kind, talented and silly 22-year old niece. When she was only ten years old, she began experiencing terrible pain from non-stop, daily headaches. Alissa was soon diagnosed with chronic headaches and migraines; thirteen years later, she has suffered with migraine pain every day.

Alissa and her family have spent the past thirteen years searching for an answer. Under the constant care of Boston neurologists, surgeons, and pediatricians, pain therapists and counselors, pain clinics, chiropractors, acupuncturists; various homeopaths, naturopaths, nutritionists, and allergists, her pain has still persisted. All norms of medicine, therapies and treatment options have utterly failed to help.

In spite of the pain, Alissa had always done her best to push through, and do the things she loves: playing the cello in youth orchestras and ensembles, singing in her indie-folk band, playing sports, volunteering with children in medical and classroom settings, reading, writing, studying and laughing.

Now, Alissa's pain is so intense, she spends about 90% of her days in her room with the shades drawn, mostly alone. Light, smell and sound can be a trigger. She is desperate for relief from the overwhelming daily pain, and hoping for the chance to lead a normal life. For those who know and love Alissa, seeing her in pain, and being powerless to help, is heart wrenching.

A few years ago, we found out about migraine surgery, and our hopes soared. Over the past decade, it was determined that a routine procedure for plastic surgery significantly decreased, or even completely eliminated migraine pain for 50 to 90% of chronic migraine sufferers. http://www.massgeneral.org/plasticsurgery/services/treatmentprograms.aspx?id=1383 

 Alissa excitedly and extensively consulted with several migraine surgeons, including Dr. William G. Austen, Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Mass General; Alissa is the perfect candidate for the procedure! The surgery, in Alissa’s case, will target four separate sites ($5,000 per site), at a total cost of $20,000. Insurance will not cover it. Though her parents have been trying for years to fund the surgery, they’re struggling financially, and have simply been unable to do it.

Even with the tremendous pain, Alissa is taking college courses towards a degree in the medical field, maintaining a 3.95 GPA. Ever-determined and always optimistic, she is hoping to use the experience of her pain and hardship to bring compassion and help to others.

So many of the things Alissa used to do when she could get a break from the pain of her migraines — things that brought great joy to those around her, and purpose to her own life — seem more and more out of reach. Wouldn’t it be absolutely wonderful if we could help this beautiful young woman get her life back?

With deepest gratitude and thanks -
 Denise Prescott
(Alissa's aunt)

Photo courtesy of Kathy Joyce

More links regarding this process...
Migraine Sufferers May Find Relief: Boston Globe 2014

Chronic Migraines Relieved by Surgery
+ Read More
Update 7
Posted by Denise Prescott
18 hours ago
   Share
Alissa went in for her procedure THIS MORNING (0900 EST)!

She expects to be walking out of the surgery center by "suppertime"!

I know you are all keeping her in your thoughts and prayers! We're with you Lissy!
+ Read More
Update 6
Posted by Denise Prescott
3 days ago
   Share
BIG NEWS!!! We've rasied enough for Alissa Heitmann to have the first of 2 procedures! It will be this Wednesday, March 29!!! We were going to have to wait until April or May but Dr. Austen at Mass General had a cancellation. My sister Gail Heitmann said that when they drove in to Boston for the pre-op appointment, they found that parking space "# 1" was open for them. Nice to feel like things are opening up for my amazing niece.
The recovery period can be 2 weeks or more, maybe less. Asking for your continued prayers and warm thoughts! If locals want to check in with Gail and Scott to see if they need a break, or if someone wants to take Alissa's rambunctious puppy for a walk, or drop off soup or whatever, please contact Gail through a text.
My brother Chip is taking my Mom to his place for an extended visit; contact him if you'd like to see them while Mom is closer to Concord!
Here is Alissa Heitmann playing a piano piece she wrote...it sounds like a journey to me....
+ Read More
Update 5
Posted by Denise Prescott
12 days ago
   Share
Really promising update!!!! Alissa went to the surgeon for a "test " nerve block yesterday and had almost 4 hours without pain (after days and days of really challenging pain)...This is a very promising finding for surgical candidates...people who respond well to a test nerve block typically have very good outcomes after the surgery!

There was some discussion of the surgery being done on March 29, although nothing has been confirmed! Keep praying! Hoping Alissa is getting closer!
+ Read More
Update 4
Posted by Denise Prescott
23 days ago
   Share
I don't know how else to say this...I have to increase the goal for Alissa from $19,000 to $21,500; I'm praying this does not feel "deflating" to Alissa or any one who has helped out!

Basically I did not factor in the % of fees that must be deducted from the amount raised to support this effort (5% goes to GoFundMe, which staffs and manages this huge effort; another 3% goes to the payment processor). We will be several thousand $ short if I don't increase the overall goal.

I was also going on earlier estimates for the surgery without factoring in aspects of the post-op period.

If you have contributed to this effort and feel changing the total amount of $ we are trying to raise is not in line with your initial intention to help, please contact me to follow up.

I am also applying to the hospital's foundation and other avenues to reduce the cost of the procedure and peri-operative care.

I really apologize for this; I've been going around and around about what impact this could have on "Alissa's Journey": I felt like increasing the goal amount kind of takes the wind out of the sail a bit. But after talking with others, we decided I should really do this now. We'll see how far we go!

No matter what, this has been an incredibly humbling and awesome thing to witness: I am amazed at all the people who are helping...people we know or knew many years ago, people we've never met, people from all over the world.

It's incredibly heartwarming to know that you can look to your left, look to your right, look to your past, or look far ahead: in every direction, there is someone who cares for you, who has compassion for you, and wants to help you get through a challenging time.
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update
Michelle Prescott Turcotte
1 month ago

Alissa is my cousin and one of the sweetest persons I have ever met. Let's rise up to bring her aid. We cannot let her suffer in the dark anymore. Even a dollar can help! Love you Alissa.

+ Read More

$14,250 of $21.5k goal

Raised by 113 people in 1 month
Created February 16, 2017
Denise Prescott  
on behalf of Alissa Heitmann
$250
Mick Greenwood
1 day ago
1
1

Get well and make the bad music in the world go away. We need you :)

PL
$41
Pierre Lemont
2 days ago

Keep the faith!

PF
$100
Patty & Ken Osborne Family
3 days ago

Alissa I have fond memories of your smile when you played the Cello and were joined by your family played "Oh Danny Boy" while your grandfather, Bob Prescott, sang. May this surgery help you to recover and share your many talents again! Peace~ A Patty and family

$200
Anonymous
8 days ago
JO
$25
Jim Orlando
11 days ago
1
1
GB
$100
Gary Boiko
11 days ago
1
1

Alissa, you and your entire family have been the best of friends to us. We will keep you in our prayers. When I was young, I remember my mother always saying to maintain your faith when one needed help. She said God will eventually get around in helping one but he generally always has a pretty long list of people to help, I know you are on that list!

EM
$25
Ellie Merson
12 days ago
1
1
$1,000
Anonymous
13 days ago
2
2
MC
$20
Mary Coburn
16 days ago

Hi Alissa, I am a friend of Lisa's. I hope you get relief soon!

DM
$100
Donald Morse
19 days ago
Michelle Prescott Turcotte
1 month ago

Alissa is my cousin and one of the sweetest persons I have ever met. Let's rise up to bring her aid. We cannot let her suffer in the dark anymore. Even a dollar can help! Love you Alissa.

+ Read More
or
Or, use your email…
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now

Pledge now, give later.

Pledge Now
You won't be charged for this pledge. We'll let denise know that you have pledged support.
Thank you!
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.