Kathi's Brain Tumor Journey

$11,113 of $17,000 goal

Raised by 120 people in 15 months
Kimberly Dunleavy Hartman
on behalf of Kathi Bialczak-Felker
 SCRANTON, PA
*** updated 2/7/18***

Please let’s help Kathi!!

Kathi Bialczak Felker is a beautiful 41 year old wife, mother of 3, (along with 5 additional step children, and now 3 grandchildren), principal of two elementary schools (Mill City Elementary and Evans Falls Elementary) in the Tunkhannock School District who has been fiercely fighting  a malignant brain tumor for almost 10 years.   She has been traveling to Philadelphia for years to undergo treatment and recently made several trips back and forth to Boston to take part in a medication trial, which unfortunately did not work.

I have just posted an update and the update section however as of today, February 7, 2018, Kathy is hospitalized in Philadelphia with complications. We are trying to get the campaign up and running again to help her with her financial needs. Kathi just had to take a sabbatical from work and is experiencing financial difficulties. We are trying to take some of the burden off of her, so she does not have to worry about her bills and medical bills.

We are just trying to raise some money until some benefits and fundraisers can be planned, which we are currently trying to do.

During this entire time , Kathi has continued to work, as a teacher in the early part of her journey, and currently as the principal of  two elementary  schools in the Tunkhannock Area School District.  

Kathi  has literally been to hell and back enduring surgery after surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hair loss, removal of part of her skull, and yet she always has  smile on her face and a positive outlook on life!  

Kathi and her husband Bob have spent thousands and thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket medical bills,  medications and traveling expenses.    This has taken a financial toll on them and we would love to be able to help them and take away some of that burden.  

Please consider helping her in any way possible!   Any amount will help, and most importantly please keep the prayers coming for her!!  ❤️❤️

This is the short version of Kathi's Brain Tumor journey.   Please read the full story below......

In 2007, Kathi started having headaches. An MRI was ordered and showed a meningioma (tumor). Her children named it Otis… as a way for them to be able to talk about it and help her "fight it".   They were very young at the time.  

Kathi started treatment at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia given the complexity and location of the tumor. 

Secondary to the location of the tumor, it was impossible to remove it 100%, so Kathi underwent Gamma Knife procedure in November 2007. This seemed to slow the growth until 2011 when her vision issues started.

 At that time, a new MRI showed the tumor was almost twice its original size. Kathi's neurosurgical team, led by Dr. Grady, at the University of Pennsylvania, performed her first craniotomy to remove what he could in January 2012. At that time tumor biopsy showed it was Grade 2.   Since the tumor was malignant, Kathi underwent seven weeks of proton radiation ( traveling to Philadelphia every day for seven weeks for the daily treatment). 

Everything seemed to be going well until February 15, 2015 (Kathi's  40th birthday) when she lost her peripheral vision.   A new MRI showed a new 2 cm tumor.

Kathi then underwent surgery in March 2015, and had several other surgeries to resect the tumor throughout 2015. (She is up to a total of nine surgeries at this time).

In September 2015, Kathi had to have part of her skull removed due to infection.   She was without part of her skull, and had to wear a helmet for protection, until December 2015.

In December 2015, the neurosurgical team was going to rebuild the skull, but unfortunately, new tumor growth was again discovered. The neurosurgical team removed what they could and biopsy showed a very rare Grade 3 cancer.  

In early 2016, Kathi  was able to get into a trial in Boston with Dr. Brastianos.   The medication was called GSK. Kathi and Bob had to travel back-and-forth to Boston about 6-7 times .  Unfortunately, the tumor was not responding to the medication and she had to be taken off of the trial.

 Kathi had to undergo two additional surgeries in 2016 for resection of the tumor with the last one being on October 28, 2016.   The neurosurgical team was very successful in tumor removal, they were very optimistic as it appeared they were able to get a lot of the tumor removed (they could never resect all of the tumor due to location and it being wrapped around nerves of the brain). However, things seemed to be finally looking up for Kathi and Bob.

Kathi went for follow up and repeat MRI on November 29, 2016. Sadly, Kathi and Bob were yet again given devastating news. The tumor grew 3 cm in less than a month. Kathi  and Bob were told she was at a very critical point. Her options were running out.

Since all medications and treatments over the last 10 years have ultimately failed, she was trying desperately to get access to an immunotherapy trial drug. Very thankfully she was informed yesterday that she was finally approved for this trial.

We are so very thankful she was finally approved. She has hundreds and hundreds of friends and family praying every day for her.
  
 If you are able to help, any amount is appreciated. We are trying to help offset the cost of her mounting medical bills, medications and traveling expenses. Please keep her in your prayers as that is the most important thing and she truly appreciates everyone's love and support!!   ❤️❤️
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2/7/18

Hi Everyone and thank you to all who contributed to help Kathi!

I am updating this page and hope to get it going again. Unfortunately, Kathi is currently hospitalized in Philadelphia with complications. She had to take a sabbatical from work and is having financial difficulties!! We have begun a Fundraising page , thanks to Nadia and Nate, and we are trying to get some fundraisers going. However in the meantime we are trying to raise some money to help Kathi with her daily bills and to stay afloat so she is not stressed about that while she’s trying to deal with her medical conditions and complications!! ❤️❤️

Please, PLEASE PLEASE share this and let’s help Kathi!!! She’s the best and deserves everything we can do to help!!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! Kim
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Happy Holidays to all! I wanted to share some amazing news Kathi received in the mail today! There is definite evidence that the tumor has shrunk with the use of the immunotherapy medication (Opivo) in combination with the Avastin! We are so incredibly grateful this Christmas Eve! Thank you again for your support and prayers!

Kathi will continue with her second infusion on Tuesday, 12/27/16! Please continue to pray for her!

From our whole family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy
Hanukkah !

Here is the part of her report indicating the decrease in the tumor size ❤️

Many Blessings,
Kim Hartman
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Hi guys... I made an error on the dates of Kathi's appointments. She will be going to Philly Tuesday 12/13/16 and has appointments the following two Tuesdays after that as well ! Sorry I cannot edit the first update !! Thanks !! ❤️

Kimberly Hartman
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Hello everyone!! I cannot thank everyone enough for all your support!! It is amazing how much we are able to help Kathi and Bob with all of your generosity and please know it is truly appreciated more than you will ever know!

Kathi had an appointment this past Friday in Philadelphia to get the information on starting the immunotherapy medication trial. She and Bob will be in Philly tomorrow and Tuesday (12/12/16 and 12/13/16) and will be getting started! Her physicians have decided she will continue with the Avastin to try and shrink the tumor as well as start the immunotherapy medication, Optivo. She will also be starting radiation at the end of January/ beginning of February.

Please continue to keep her in your prayers! I know we are all behind her! ❤️❤️. She is such a special woman!!

We are planning some fundraisers and will be talking after the holidays about a benefit!

If there is anyone local in the Scranton and surrounding area with children, please consider coming to Bees Backyard in the Steamtown Marketplace on 1/15/17. See the flyer below. Please feel free to share on your page ... the flyer is on my Facebook page and is public! This has been set up by my sister-in-law, Lauren Dunleavy. Please feel free to contact myself or Lauren with any questions! Bees is a wonderful place for kids to play, so clean and so much fun! They have very generously offered to donate 25% of the admission costs to Kathi! (There is no admission for parents, only for the kids who will be playing)

Thank you again to everyone and stay tuned for more updates!! ❤️❤️❤️

Kimberly Hartman (Kathi's cousin)
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$11,113 of $17,000 goal

Raised by 120 people in 15 months
Created November 29, 2016
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$25
Gabrielle Bosch
8 days ago

Been praying everyday for Kathi and her Family. God bless❤️

$50
Anonymous
13 days ago
DP
$50
Donna Pitoniak
15 days ago

Kathi, Praying for your recovery and for your family.

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