Help A Young Mom Beat Cancer
Hello all. I am young, proud mother to 3 beautiful children (ages 6, 3, and 2 years) and soon to be wife to an amazing man, Aaron. In the beginning of 2015, our lives began to change in ways we couldn't imagine.
I began having trouble swallowing food in January. Eventually as the months went on, even fluids were not going down properly and I was having to make myself throw up because food would become so stuck in my esophagus. I was pregnant with our third child, and because of that and my age (26 years old), it was written off as pregnancy related. However, after our daughter was born it got progressively worse and I was finally scheduled for a barium swallow in July. I recieved the shocking news that the radiologist had found a mass where the esophagus meets the stomach and immediately I was booked for an endoscopy the following morning. Biopsies confirmed that I had stomach cancer (adenocarcinoma) and the mass was big enough food wasn't able to pass by it easily anymore, or even large gulps of water.
As someone who was healthy in every other way, very young for this type of cancer, and lived a relatively health conscious life, this was incredibly shocking and ofcourse, devastating. (We later found out the cancer is caused by a genetic mutation called Lynch Syndrome).
We were then plunged into the medical world, where I did 2 rounds of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to try and shrink the tumour before surgery . Unfortunately the tumour did not shrink and I was hospitalized due to becoming dehydrated as I couldn't even swallow my own saliva. I had a stent fitted in my esophagus at that point to open it up so I could eat and eventually went on to have surgery in October 2015. I had most of my stomach taken, 40 lymph nodes, and a lot of my esophagus. When the pathology came back we were further devastated to find out it was stage 4. Stage 4 stomach cancer has a very poor prognosis (only up to 4% make it to the 5 year mark).
After more chemo (9 rounds), I was blessed to have 3 scans showing no evidence of disease! At that point I was given a 7 month break. But then recurrance happened. My scan in November of 2016 showed a 5cm mass growing on my adrenal gland and further more, spread to my right lung.
As I continue to battle this disease with conventional treatment, I would like to also try the holistic route. I believe it could aid in my long term survival, in conjunction with convential treatment, but the cost can be quite high and just not something we can afford. Ideally I would be working with someone to boost my immune system and fight inflammation. And durng any time I'm off of chemo, I would like to try high doses of vitamin c. All of this can be pricey and any help at all would be greatly appreciated, more than I could put into words.
I also have to be prepared to travel for treatment, if need be. At this point, if I don't respond to chemo, I may have to look at clinical trials and the possibility of travel. To have funds put away for this, as well to help as my husband takes time away from work to care for me and our children while I'm sick from chemo, is crucial for our family.
I'm only 27 years old and have 3 very small children who I love more than I could possibly ever say. My prognosis is poor and the reality is, doctors don't expect to see me make it to my 33rd birthday. But we see and hear the stories of people who are thriving with stage 4 cancers, or even hear of remission of stage 4 cancers. It can happen! I want to do everything in my power to try and stay around for as long as possible. No child deserves to lose a parent. We would be grateful for any donations to help us along this journey and we thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for considering us or even simply sharing this campaign.
Thank you so much everyone.
So results from the POG trials showed that many mutations were found and amazingly enough, a simple blood pressure medication might be useful to me in slowing down the progression of the cancer. For anyone who has followed news about the POG program, they may have heard of doctors trying this once already here in BC on a woman with metastatic colon cancer. It worked surprisingly well and she benefited greatly from the medication. I would be the first person with advanced stomach cancer to try this route, so we have no idea if it will work, but we are crossing our fingers.
Because also this month, we unfortunately recieved the results of a pet scan. The cancer has spread to the pleural cavity and there looks like there is also a tumour on my liver. My oncologist did inform me that without successful treatment to slow the cancer down, I am now looking at a few months to year of life left, and a year would be generous. We have decided to start the process in registering with hospice so I have access to better pain management, as my pain is very high and at times almost unbearable. This will give me the opportunity to have support for that without having to go into emergency.
We will continue on with this blood pressure medication and a dose of radiation to help with the pain. Hopefully, things will take a turn for the best and my next scan will show something a little more positive.
To be prepared for the worst however, I would greatly appreciate people share this GoFundMe me and consider continuing to donate to it. As we look at our situation from all angles, I would be comforted in knowing Aaron and the kids have a little something to help them along after I'm gone. If I get better, this money will always come in handy to help with any cancer related expense and to help when time is taken off of work. If my health declines, we will look at Aaron taking that time off work so we can spend as much time together as possible, as a family.
Thank you everyone for all of your love and support so far and beyond this. Your generosity and love is always something that pushes me through and something I think about often. I never thought I would have to deal with facing such a serious illness that would take me from my children, especially at such a young age. It can be isolating and at times, just very hard to deal with and to process. The love from the community and strangers, family and friends, helps pull me to the other side of it all, and takes away a little bit of that fear by knowing I'm not alone. So thank you. Truly.
In the next few months I'll get the results back and with any luck there might be a personalized treatment plan we can put into place that will help slow the cancer growth. There is a chance this won't happen but at the very least any information from my case could aid in helping others in the future. But we are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best!
The biopsy I was kept awake for and able to watch them guide the needle into the tumour by ultrasound, which was really fascinating to see. They were able to get a few good, viable samples, thankfully, as a lot of the mass is necrotic and they were worried that would be a problem.
Now, I'm back home on the island. A CT scan was done yesterday and I meet with my oncologist next week to see how much, if any, the cancer has progressed and what we will do while we wait for the results from the trial.
Thanks everyone so much and please continue to keep our family in your thoughts.
The link for POG trials.
I am ShaWanda Manuel-Braham, Programs Coordinator at Debbie's Dream Foundation. I’m very sorry to hear of your diagnosis. You may be interested in registering for our FREE Patient Resource Education Program. We will send you more information and match you with a mentor. Our mentors are stomach cancer survivors or caregivers who can offer advice, tips, and be a source of support for you. Please follow the link to complete our online Resource Inquiry Form. You may also find it helpful to make full use of the resources we offer on our website. Some of the resources can be found at these links: Resources and Related Links - https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/resources-related-links Lecture Library - https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/lecture-library Blog - https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/blog Stomach Cancer 101 Information - https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/stomach-cancer-101 Clinical Trials - https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/clinical-trials Wishing you and your family all the best!
Mallory, you strong, brave soul! Sending you healing vibes. I'm sure you've heard of dr Neil Mckinney, but wanted to share his name if not. He is a naturopathic oncologist. He is wonderful. He is knowledgeable. See him! Also, i heard of your story through my mommy group - Katherine, and although funds are tight in my house, for your wedding I would love to donate my time arranging your wedding flowers into boquets or centrepieces etc. Please let me know :)