Help Michelle and family - Stage 4 breast cancer

$10,214 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 89 people in 13 months
My sister Michelle (Half-Pint) was just diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer just days before her 40th birthday. It started with a lump in her breast, which then turned into finding a second lump in the same breast. A PET scan showed areas on her sternum and T4 spine that were suspicious for metastatic disease. A biopsy on her spine came back positive for cancer. She has been told she is "incurable", but she has a porta cath implanted in her chest to receive chemo treatments. Although she is incurable, they are hoping to slow the progression or even stop it. Her treatment will never end. Her 1st treatment was on July 6th. The day of her oldest daughter's 17th birthday. She will be receiving her 3rd treatment on July 20th. Her treatments are weekly, and at this point she has to drive 1.5 hours to Sioux Falls, SD to get her chemo and other appointments done. Although she is doing great with treatments and feeling good, it's getting hard to keep missing work due to surgeries and chemo treatments. Any donations, large or small would be so greatly appreciated in this time of need.  Michelle and Michael also have another daughter that is 10 years old. Michael has also had to miss work to help her go to Sioux Falls for appointments.  Medical bills are coming in and even with insurance  there's still a ton to pay.  Please help my sister. She's a mom, a wife, a daughter, and a metastatic breast cancer "thriver".
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Michelle says, "Here it goes! I made it out of surgery! I feel actually not too bad. Like I have cramps, and along with them all this crap attached to me. Oh and I'm HUNGRY! "

Today was her total hysterectomy with the davinchi robot. The surgeon completed this part of the operation and then she had her mastectomy completed on her right side (cancerous side) and an expander placed for future fills.
For those that don't understand what an expander is, it's basically like a deflated balloon or deflated implant. Over a period of time the surgeon will inject a saline solution into the balloon. Slowly filling, and stretching the skin out. This is done because they take skin off because of the cancer, so it is typically really tight. Over weeks and sometimes months these fills take place until the breast pocket is large enough to hold a regular implant.
Once it's up to par to match her left breast she will require a secondary surgery to remove the expander and place the actual implant.
The doctor took some more lymph nodes out of her right side and said those were clear, so that's good news.
She will obviously be out of work recovering from this big ordeal. Anesthesia alone is very tiresome to recover from, so all this trauma to her body will take her back a little.
Finances are always tight at the Schwerdtfeger household. The medical bills add up quickly. They still don't have enough yet to meet their out of pocket maximum this year so then everything would be covered 100% when that is met.
I know this is a long update, but wanted to inform everyone who aren't medically inclined to understand this whole process.
Thanks for the love, and support this past year!

Oh and an update inside of this update... She got to eat! she's not starving anymore
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she's so excited how much her hair has grown since stopping the taxol chemo drug. she can finally put a barrette and feel in her hair!
It's official... She has a surgery date set for Monday August 5th to have her Mastectomy and total hysterectomy. They expect it all to take around 5 hours and then she will recover at the hospital for a day or 2.
She will have radiation but not until after surgery is done, and that will be a difficult time for her. She will have to drive several times a week to Sioux Falls for the radiation, so that is going to interfere with her work and cause her to spend hours in the car driving to and from.
Thanks everyone for your well wishes, thoughts and prayers.
Any donations are still greatly appreciated.
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Hey everyone! Just wanted to do a little update. Friday June, 28 we made the drive to Sioux Falls, SD for "maintenance chemo" of Herceptin and Perjeta. Everything is going well still on the chemo front.
Monday, July 1st Michelle and Michael went back to Sioux Falls to meet with the plastic surgeon to finalize details and make a plan for mastectomy with reconstruction. She will also be having a laparoscopic robot assisted total hysterectomy. Michelle is very excited to get these procedures done. The hysterectomy will make it so she will have one less medication she has to receive because it will take away the hormones that the cancer feeds off of. The reconstruction will take place in 2 separate procedures. Stage 1 is mastectomy and put an expander in the right side. Stage 2, the final procedure will be to put the actual implants in both sides. (she is not having mastectomy on the left, just an implant will be inserted to match the final size on the right)
The hysterectomy and 1st stage of reconstruction will be done at the same time and should be a total surgery time of around 3 hours.
She is supposed to be meeting with the oncology radiologist on July 5th to come up with a plan for radiation.
She is still feeling great and doing very well considering everything going on.
Thanks for all the continued support and donations. As always, anything and everything helps.
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Michelle had more scans this last Friday (may 31st) Our mom and dad were able to attend this appointment with her.
They did another heart ultrasound and another PET scan. Her ultrasound came back with no issues, but the PET scan shows there may be more progression in her spine, on another thoracic vertebrae. She has to go back for an MRI this Friday.
They will look at making more plans or adjustments to her treatment.
It's certainly not the outcome we were all so hoping for, but it could always be worse. This is the unfortunate part of the metastatic breast cancer that makes things difficult.
Sometimes the treatment becomes less successful and a new treatment will have to be looked at.
We are all very bummed to say the least, but we all have to take this awful disease one day and one treatment at a time, and hope for more clean scans in the future.
Michelle is still doing amazing. She has many days where she's in a lot of pain, and extremely fatigued, but she is a trooper and just keeps going like the energizer bunny.
She is still working full time. There's always many bills to be paid. Her husband Michael also works full time.
On Sunday their kids, Milada and Audrey left for a week long camping trip with Camp Keesm.
We hope that this will also help them understand more and help them meet more friends and have some fun!
Thanks everyone who still follows this site. I know the updates are few and far between but I try not to be overpowering and I try to update when there's more news going on.
Hopefully we will find out some more info when she goes back this coming Friday.
Anyways, thank you all so much for the love, support, prayers and donations.
Everything helps and it is very much appreciated!
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$10,214 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 89 people in 13 months
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