Miss Traci's Cancer treatment fund

$10,705 of $8,000 goal

Raised by 128 people in 25 months
As some of you already know, Miss Traci Presley has been diagnosed with Cancer.  It was during a hysterectomy that they found two types of cancer.  After surgery she immediately began chemotherapy as a preventative measure, in case any was left behind.  

Unfortunately after completing 5 months of chemotherapy it was discovered that not only had the cancer returned but it was thriving.  Now she is faced with a new round of treatment which includes traveling to the number one cancer treatment center in the country (MD Anderson Cancer Center) in Houston, TX.  

As a school teacher and dance teacher, Traci has touched many many lives in the Little Rock area and many have reached out asking how they can help.  Since her battle is just beginning again, and the road ahead could be long and costly, we have created this campaign with hopes of relieving some of the financial burden due to Medical bills, Travel expenses and Lost wages.  Any donation, whether it be kind words, prayers or monitary, would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much!
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This should be the final update on Traci, as you know she passed away on Tuesday Morning 12/26. We really appreciated all of your love and support –both emotional and financial. We don’t know what we would have done without you!!

A lot has happened in a short period of time, and I know it has left everyone shaken and confused and we feel in debited to you for your love and support so we wanted to provide some clarity.

On the last update I had mentioned that she was on a new targeted therapy drug that was supposed to attack the Sarcoma portion of the tumor and we had high hopes for this new direction. We had only been on that drug for one month and the doctors said that it would take at least 3 months to know if it was doing any good, so it never really had time to prove its worth.

On our last Oncologist visit (last Thursday) the doctor noticed an increase on her discomfort level and no visible signs of shrinkage so he ordered a new CT scan. Upon analysis of that scan he and the radiologist agreed that she had a perforated bowel and that apparently was the deal breaker, because they had already told us that no one would operate and that the area was too large for radiation. Finding drugs that would shrink or control its growth was our only course of action and it had failed and the tumor finally breached a vital organ.

So the doctor recommended entering Hospice for pain management. He said, “if you were my sister I would tell you to stop the chemo drugs because at this point they are doing more harm than good, and enter in-home hospice care and finally get some much needed relief.”

Of course we were shocked and numb. We would all have wished that someone would try something other than giving up, cut her open and see what you can do! We were also shocked that she would only survive 4 more days.

If there is a silver lining it’s that she was home the entire Christmas weekend and surrounded by the whole family. We got lots and lots of quality time with her, had great conversations and palatable Love. We were thankful that it didn’t drag out unbearably long and immediately after Christmas we got her back into the hospital surrounded by professionals who were very attentive, caring, and even recognized her awesomeness. I was with her until the very end, talking into her ear… and she knew it.

Thank you all so so much!
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Update 12/10

There has been another shift in treatment. The previous chemo drugs seemed to be affecting the tumor but the doctor wasn't happy with the fact that we weren't seeing any visible signs of tumor shrinkage, only signs of dying tissue.

This did have us puzzled over how it could be working but not shrinking. One possible explanation that was given is that since the cancer is a carcino-sarcoma, which acts like two different cancers (Carcinoma & Sarcoma), the previous treatment was affecting one more than the other. Presumably the Carcinoma has been affected and the Sarcoma has not. For this reason the doctor has decided to change treatments.

The new treatment is a pretty major shift since it is not a traditional Chemo drug which kills all rapidly dividing cells in the body -not just cancer cells. The new drug is a more "targeted therapy" which targets specific types of cancer cells (Sarcoma being one of them) and is given in pill format. Since it's "targeted" it doesn't tend to affect the various blood cell counts like traditional chemo drugs so this has cut down on the amount of lab work, transfusions and infusions.

This drug is designed to block tumor growth in several ways.  It targets several proteins on the surface of cancer cells as well as some within the cell.  Several of these targets are intended to inhibit the making of blood vessels and starve the tumor of blood supply and, in doing so, it is hoped that the cancer will at least shrink and maybe even die. 

Unbelievably, as of today, the new drug has been denied by the insurance company (twice) so the doctor has been giving us free samples which I believe he said cost $8,000 for a 15 day supply!!

We have filled out some paperwork from the drug company for need-based assistance, so we'll see where that goes. Also we will be changing over to my insurance company in January and we'll see if this drug is covered there.

Thank you all for being there, we have been very blessed to have such support!!

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We have made it through 3 cycles (6 treatments) of the new Chemo Drug and this is when they do a new CT scan to see how the tumor is reacting.
So last week we had 5 appointments.
-CT Scan of abdomen/tumor
-Ultra Sound of swollen leg to ensure no clot
-Weekly Lab work to check blood counts
-Face to Face with Oncologist to hear results of above tests
-Platelet infusion due to low count

After reviewing the scan, the Dr came in and said “if I didn’t know your situation I’d think it has gotten worse because the tumor is even larger than last time, however the reflectivity of the contrast solution on the images has gone from bright white to grey which probably indicates that the tumor is largely necrotic (dead tissue)” Which is in line with the plummeting of the CA125 number (which as mentioned before, measures the amount of a particular protein in the blood that only cancer cells give off.) So all indications are that this chemo is killing the cancer.
However, we are not yet seeing any physical signs of improvement and she does have a lot of general discomfort due to the swelling in the abdomen. It will take some time for the body to reabsorb and carry off any dead tissue so physical signs of improvement would lag behind according to the doctor.

An ultra sound of the leg did find a sizable blood clot, so they have put her on a blood thinner. The nurse did mention that they do see clots when their is rapid shrinkage of a tumor due to the body trying to reabsorb those cells. So once again what initially seems like bad news could also be a sign of something positive.

As you can tell, we wait a long time for information and even that can be a bit fuzzy. We are still cautiously optimistic.

On another note…
What has really made our heads spin is having to learn about Retirement, Disability, Social Security & Medicare, ten years before we thought we would need to…
-The real back breaker was that her Short Term Disability, offered through her job, is capped at $100 per week… which contradicts what the benefits brochure says it pays (70% of your normal income tax-free) So that was a shocker! Apparently you can pay extra to get up to 70% of your pay (according to some table that was never shown to the employees), but the base amount is a flat $100/week. This isn’t even enough to even pay her monthly Family Health insurance premium.

-For this reason, she has no other Income option but to retire early. Which we are thankful that she has been a school teacher long enough to retire but it’s never good to retire early and take less of a pension -if you can avoid it. So the paperwork has been filed and she is officially retired. Ms Presley is no longer a dance teacher! (let that sink in) As you can imagine this realization was emotion for her. :( She has been really fortunate to have had a job doing what she loved, but she will really miss it.

-Also we applied for and got approved for Social Security Disability (SSDI). Which was great news!

-Since she hasn’t been able to work and has been living with no income for several months now, we have been leaning heavily on the “Go fund me” account to fill the gap. And we are very thankful for that. So thank you all!
By December she should be getting both Retirement and SSDI so she should be back on her feet financially by then.

Thanks again for all of the love and support!
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Update 9/22:
We are cautiously optimistic that we are seeing signs of tumor shrinkage…

Apparently there is a blood test that the doctor orders every month or so called the CA125 test. (CA=Cancer Antigen)
It measures the amount of a certain protein that cancer cells “emit” that normal cells do not, so they can use these numbers to gauge if the tumor is growing or shrinking based on the amount of this protein in the blood.
Last week the doctor called with a fair bit of excitement in his voice and reported that this number had dropped significantly!

So I went back through our records to see what the numbers have been at various times during our treatment.
It had started at 55 before any chemo (Jan), then spiked at 150 (in July), and it was 72 (in Aug) and it’s now at 14!!
So that seems to be really good news!

Also this new chemo drug seem to have fewer negative side effects, so Traci is feeling quite a bit better and seems to be getting back to her old self again.

Thanks for the continued love and support!!
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Raised by 128 people in 25 months
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