Stand by Erika

$8,577 of $11,000 goal

Raised by 64 people in 14 months
Created October 21, 2017
When you hear someone has Thyroid Cancer,  you probably think they were lucky to be diagnosed with a cancer that is treated so easily. That was our first thought, too, when my best friend Erika noticed a small lump on her neck this past summer. Unfortunately, her diagnosis turned out to be much more serious.

Erika is a single mom to her 16 year old daughter, and has to stay healthy to be able to be there for her, so she decided to have the lump looked at right away. The biopsy revealed a cancerous growth. So a surgery to remove the thyroid, surrounding muscles, and numerous lymph nodes was scheduled immediately.

When the results came back after surgery, Erika was diagnosed with one of the rarest forms of thyroid cancer. Although it hasn't spread to distant areas, it is stage IV. There aren't many doctors in the country who can treat the cancer she has, so she was sent to see a specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Due to the nature of her cancer, a very aggressive treatment program was drafted to start immediately.

Her treatment consists of weekly chemo therapy, and external beam radiation 5 days a week (33 radiation treatments). She is now a few weeks into the 7 week regime, and the effects of the chemo and radiation are starting to take their toll.  She was also hospitalized for almost 2 weeks, which paused treatments, but is now back on receiving radiation and chemo. The radiation is especially grueling; she has constant pain when swallowing, and talking is becoming quite an effort. While she was hospitalized, she had to receive a stomach feeding tube due to not being able to eat or drink any more. She now has to feed herself special nutrition drinks through the tube, which is no fun.

Erika is too fatigued from the treatments, and had to  stop working recently. Her paid time off from work has run out due to doctor's appointments, surgeries and hospital stays. She needs help covering her living expenses and medical bills while out sick on unpaid leave. 

Erika is one of the best moms I know. She's happy, good hearted, and compassionate. We are asking for help to make sure she can concentrate on treatments and healing, and not constantly worry if she will lose her home due to the cancer.

We would appreciate any amount you could donate to help Erika. We will post updates as her treatments continue. Thank you!

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Erika lost her battle with anaplastic thyroid cancer on Oct. 26th , 2018. Though her cancer was diagnosed very early, we knew from the start that there was not going to be cure for the type of cancer she had; just more time...
You all knew her; she was always smiling; happy and even though life had dealt her some really bad cards she never let any of that, or her cancer diagnosis to affect the way she treated everyone around her. Thanks to all of you who donated and enabled Erika to have more time with her daughter, and thanks to Mayo Clinic and Md Anderson cancer centers for trying to come of with new treatments that would have given Erika even more time.
I could not have asked for a better friend. Miss you; always love you!
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Update from Erika:

A New Year and a New Hairdo!

I have just returned back to work part time, and it feels great to have some normalcy back in my life. My wonderful co-workers decorated my office and welcomed me back with many hugs.

The latest medical update is, next week I have a biopsy to verify the cancer did not spread anywhere else other than locally (around my neck area). If negative, the cancer is gone. Close monitoring with scans and lab work will continue frequently throughout the year.

Hope everyone's year is going fabulously, and everyone is making their annual check up appointments! It is crucial to eat right, exercise, and de-stress, but most of all to see your doctor if a new lump or mole appears--as soon as you notice it. It could save your life.

I had no prior health issues, and my thyroid blood work was negative for any thyroid issues. No other symptons... just a lump.

Happy I jumped on it and happy to getting back to "normal."

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart! I am so very grateful for your love and support!
Amazing co-workers decorated my office!
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From Erika...

December is always a hectic time... my daughter's Birthday (the 19th) and of course Christmas/Holidays.

Healing from my treatment could take a while so this December is not so fun, but I do what I can when I have the extra energy. The steroids I get a couple times a week have been helpful.

Still having throat pain and now ear pain, but overall, little by little I'm getting better. My voice is back, getting better weekly. Although I still have my feeding tube, I'm hopeful in next couple weeks I'll be starting to eat soft foods and drink a full glass of water without pain. One of my Christmas Wishes!

Unfortunately, I had an a/c leak that went through my first floor ceiling last week, so thanks to all of you, I was able to fix the leak. I'm now looking for a handyman to repair the ceiling. Please message me if you can recommend a Broward handyman - honest and affordable.

My Medical Update: I saw my radiation oncologist Wednesday (12/13). One of the lymph nodes only got smaller, meaning it didn't disintegrate, so surgery to remove it will probably be the next step. I will go for a consult with my surgeon soon.

A PET scan (thorough scan for cancer) in January is scheduled to get a better look at everything. The other lymph node can hardly be seen on the CAT scan, which is good. There are some inflammation type specs (tiny nodules) on the scan in the lungs, but the doctor says that usually occurs after treatment, and right now it's not a concern. They will continue to monitor.

Everyday I try to do something I couldn't do the week before and rest in between.

Thank you for your prayers, positive comments, and continued support.

P.S. Check out my new pics :)

Love, Erika
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First, Erika would like to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. She is very grateful to have you all as friends and family. Unfortunately, during the past 2 weeks she has been under a lot of pain. It hasn’t been easy, but she knew she'd endure the most pain and difficulties during the 2nd half of the treatments.

She's lost some weight, but has a list of foods to indulge in as soon as she can eat normally again. Her junk food list (short term diet plan) includes cheese fries, burger 21 veggie burger, tacos, best local bakeries etc... She says she might have to start a food blog after hitting up all the different restaurants.

The Radiation Doctor is changing the target of the beams to focus more on the 2 cancerous lymph nodes that were unforeseen before surgery. If the lymph nodes do not disintegrate, then surgery will have to be performed. This could delay recoup time and getting back to work, so we are hoping the radiation will work. She will need a cat scan soon after treatment to check the lymph nodes and neck area. About 6 weeks later a pet scan will be done.

As many of you know she takes care of her Father, who has some health challenges, so it has been difficult throughout treatments. She tries to rest throughout the day so she has some extra energy to take care of his needs. Many more tests and doctors appts. are coming, so medical bills will continue through the new year.

It's a long road ahead, and she has her days where she needs extra strength to get through it all, but the good news is that about 90% of time she's positive, and trying not to think of the what ifs.

Thank you for standing by Erika. Your love and support is making a BIG difference for her. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your loved ones!!
Gonna Beat This!
Trust me Serena you don't want this! :)
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$8,577 of $11,000 goal

Raised by 64 people in 14 months
Created October 21, 2017
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