The Maria Smith Foundation

$55,884 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 463 people in 29 months
Recently my sister, Maria Vojack – Smith, was diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer called peritoneal mesothelioma. Only 100-500 people a year are diagnosed with this cancer and as a result treatment is minimal and currently there is no cure. She is, however, a candidate for an innovative surgery performed by a doctor in Washington DC. Cytoreductive surgery is roughly a ten to twelve hour long surgical procedure which also includes a HIPEC chemo treatment. HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy) is a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment that is delivered directly to the abdomen during surgery. She will also have a port implanted in her for six months of continued chemo after the procedure. The treatment for which she is a candidate is not covered under insurance. We are currently utilizing a healthcare advocate to help us fight the insurance company. This procedure is considered aggressive, but we have no other options as this is an aggressive form of cancer. Mesothelioma does not respond well – if at all - to regular chemo or radiation. We are extremely hopeful that this surgery will be successful in providing her with a better quality of life thus improving her prognosis.

Even if we are successful in getting the insurance company to cover the expenses within her policy, there is no telling what the out of pocket expenses will be. Additionally she will be out of work as will her husband as he travels to Washington to be with her. The recovery in the hospital can be anywhere from three to five weeks depending upon how she heals and progresses.

We are asking everyone we know and calling upon all of our resources to help spread the word in the hopes that we can raise money to help cover the costs of her surgery, treatment, continued care and any other expenses associated with her medical condition.

I want those of you who do not know her or do not know her well to learn a little bit about her. Maria is my younger sister. She is a fifth grade teacher and has been teaching for 16 years. Even as child – she always knew what she wanted. She wanted to be a teacher, get married and have children. Her goal of becoming a teacher became a reality, as did her dream to get married when just two years ago she married her awesome husband, Isaac Smith. They live in Fair Lawn which I love because we live so close to one another. Last year, after a somewhat grueling interview and application process, they were approved for adoption. However due to her recent diagnosis, they are no longer eligible to adopt at this time.


This has all come as quite a shock to our family. Everything moves so quickly once the wheels are in motion. Through the blurriness of it all you start to begin to see more clearly. You catch your breath and quickly learn the value of words like determination, perseverance, motivation, support, laughter, forgiveness, kindness, empathy, strength and most importantly love. Our first instinct is to draw upon our family for these things, but we have quickly found that our friends, co-workers, and community members are there and want to help us as well.

I, for one, have never been very good at asking for help when I need it. I like to be the one that help others.

But this time - I am asking for your help.
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It has been too long! I apologize for not updating all of you sooner. So much has happened over the past six months. Maria completed a very long and arduous set of chemo treatments. She made it through like a champ! After treatment she took time to rest and continued to heal and regain her strength. Her scans and blood work have come back CLEAN!!!! It is truly incredible. She has been back to work for about a month now and is so happy to be living “a normal life again” as she says. She continues to get stronger every day. She is being monitored very closely with blood work every six weeks, various doctor appointments, and scans every six months. Her next set of scans will be in June.

I don’t know how I/we can all thank you enough. How does one thank another for being there during the hardest part of their lives? How do we thank all of you for your kind words and hugs? Your encouragement? The meals and gifts – the smiles and most of all your unwavering encouragement even when things seemed impossible…..

There is no worse feeling in this world than when you are dealt - what appears to be - an impossible hand. As her sister – I want to thank you all for helping to give her/us the possibility of a chance. All we need sometimes is the “possibility” - the chance for a different outcome. You gave us all hope.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. If you have only one smile in you - give it to the people you love.”
~Maya Angelou~

Thank you for being our rainbows….
A Day At The Zoo
Christmas
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Today begins a new chapter for Maria. Today she begins the first day of many chemotherapy treatment. She will be receiving two kinds of chemo and most treatments will take all day. She will be undergoing this therapy for many many months. Her time at home has helped her to regain her physical and mental strength. She attended a family party yesterday for her niece Mckenzie and we were all so thrilled! Her spirits are good and her smiles and laughter are even better! Thank you to all of those that have donated, shared, prayed and provided words of encouragement. We continue to be so grateful for the continued support you given to all of us.
Apple Picking with Mckenzie in 2002
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Today is a VERY big day for Maria. She was discharged from the rehabilitation center and is now resting comfortable in her very own chair - in her very own living room - in her very own HOME. Yes!!! She is Home!!! She is getting stronger everyday a she continues to heal. She has a two week "break" before she begins what will be a very rigorous chemo regiment. During these next two weeks she will continue with her physical therapy at home. We will be sure to spend time together doing things that she enjoys and keep her comfortable, relaxed and most importantly - smiling. Today is a slice of victory for her and for us. This battle may be over but we have not yet won the war. We continue to keep our focus and remain steadfast in our belief that with faith, love, kindness and hope - anything is possible. Thank you for continuing to share in this difficult journey with us. Your continued prayers and support - as always - are appreciated more than you all will ever know.
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After 30 days in the hospital, Maria was finally released yesterday! She conquered amazing challenges - a day-long surgery - six consecutive days of chemo and many other obstacles. She was taken via medical transport company yesterday from the hospital in Washington DC to a rehabilitation center in north Jersey where she can now be close to family and friends. She will stay at the rehabilitation center as she works toward regaining her physical strength and independence! She is thrilled to be close to home and we are beyond estatic to have her back up here! I have been trying to keep you all updated with her improvements. As you can imagine it has been quite a journey with many ups and downs. But she has prevailed and continues to do so. When I write these updates I try to do so with accuracy which is sometimes difficult because things can change so quickly. I often wait to share information with all of you until I know it is correct. We maintain an upward and onward tone, however I feel I would be dishonest if I didn't tell you all that this was - and continues to be - the battle of her life....for her life. Each milestone has come with cheers, tears, hugs and kisses. From her first time sitting up - to standing - to walking down the corridor!! This is not about me - but I will share with you all that the intense pride, respect and admiration I feel for her is immeasurable. I am truly in awe of what she has achieved and the fires that I have watched her walk through. I don't know if you truly ever realize how deeply you can feel until you watch someone you love go through something like this. I believe with every fiber of my being, that it was the strength and love from her husband, family, friends and community that helped her to get where she is today - one step closer to home. Thank you all for your continued support, prayers and love.
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Read a Previous Update
Maggie Masetti
29 months ago
2
2

Best wishes to Maria and your whole family. Hope the surgery goes well. Will be thinking of you all.

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Maggie Masetti
20 months ago
1
1

That is incredibly wonderful news! I'm so very glad the scans came back clean and I hope they will continue to be clean for a long lifetime to come. Thanks for letting us know!

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Elizabeth Snodgrass
20 months ago
1
1

Go Maria!!! You kicked it!

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Elizabeth Teira
27 months ago
1
1

Thank you for the update! I have been thinking of Maria and wondering how she was faring. Good luck in this next stage! Will keep the prayers coming.

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Melanie Drake Catanzaro
27 months ago
1
1

SO happy to hear you are HOME! We think of you often and are routing and praying for you. Stay strong - you amazing woman! Hugs xoxo The Catanzaros

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Maggie Masetti
28 months ago
1
1

Thank you again for the update - glad she is headed home. Please keep us updated. Best wishes to her and you all!

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Judie Forcier
28 months ago
1
1

So happy to here you are almost home every day you are in my thoughts and prayers May god speed your recovery. Thank you for keeping us up to date.

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Maggie Masetti
29 months ago
1
1

Thanks for keeping us updated on her condition. Best wishes.

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$55,884 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 463 people in 29 months
Created June 9, 2016
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$265
Anonymous
22 months ago
2
2
PG
$200
Patricia Galasso
23 months ago
2
2

Wishing you the best, Maria!

AL
$100
athena lantz
24 months ago
2
2

Keep heart!

Maggie Masetti
29 months ago
2
2

Best wishes to Maria and your whole family. Hope the surgery goes well. Will be thinking of you all.

+ Read More
Maggie Masetti
20 months ago
1
1

That is incredibly wonderful news! I'm so very glad the scans came back clean and I hope they will continue to be clean for a long lifetime to come. Thanks for letting us know!

+ Read More
Elizabeth Snodgrass
20 months ago
1
1

Go Maria!!! You kicked it!

+ Read More
Elizabeth Teira
27 months ago
1
1

Thank you for the update! I have been thinking of Maria and wondering how she was faring. Good luck in this next stage! Will keep the prayers coming.

+ Read More
Melanie Drake Catanzaro
27 months ago
1
1

SO happy to hear you are HOME! We think of you often and are routing and praying for you. Stay strong - you amazing woman! Hugs xoxo The Catanzaros

+ Read More
Maggie Masetti
28 months ago
1
1

Thank you again for the update - glad she is headed home. Please keep us updated. Best wishes to her and you all!

+ Read More
Judie Forcier
28 months ago
1
1

So happy to here you are almost home every day you are in my thoughts and prayers May god speed your recovery. Thank you for keeping us up to date.

+ Read More
Maggie Masetti
29 months ago
1
1

Thanks for keeping us updated on her condition. Best wishes.

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