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Fighting Cancer While Expecting - Brianne & Baby

$52,806 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 843 people in 29 days
Created March 23, 2019
I have created this page to help support my sister Brianne (age 32), her husband Hector (age 34), and the first child they have on the way. Brianne is battling Stage 4 Fibrosarcoma which has metastasized to her lungs and pancreas, as well as lesions on her head, neck and back. While fighting for her own life, Brianne is carrying Baby Rodriguez.

* * * * * 

Let me start at the beginning. Twenty years ago, Brianne was diagnosed with soft tissue cancer (Fibrosarcoma). Fibrosarcoma is a very rare cancer affecting fibrous tissue near bone. Only 1% of all cancers are sarcomas, of which 10% are Fibrosarcoma. At only 10 years old, this was a scary and overwhelming time for Brianne. She faced medical visits, biopsies, chemotherapy, surgeries and eventually limb removal. Her right arm was amputated just below the elbow in 1998 (putting her in remission).

In the years following, Brianne was fortunate to live a relatively normal young-adult life. Each year, Brianne's family and friends looked forward to celebrating her survival. On her remission anniversaries, we reflected on how lucky we've been to have her in our lives as a brave and beautiful daughter, sister, lover, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend. Her last remission anniversary was celebrated on October 28, 2018  -- 20 years cancer free, the way to be.

* * * * *

Just after her twentieth remission anniversary, in November 2018, Brianne found out she was pregnant. She and Hector had been trying for a baby and were overjoyed. Their excitement quickly turned to nervousness and worry, as it was early on in pregnancy when Brianne started noticing abnormal physical changes. Due to her medical history, any new lumps or bumps (other than a growing baby bump!) were immediately concerning. So, to the doctor she went.

* * * * * 

That brings us to today. Brianne has been diagnosed with recurrent Fibrosarcoma. The ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans, biopsies and pathology testing performed over the past several weeks have confirmed multiple masses throughout Brianne's body, including a 9 cm tumor in the lower lobe of her left lung, two smaller tumors in the upper lobe of her left lung, a suspicious nodule in her right lung, a 4 cm tumor near (or possibly invading) her pancreas and three lesions appearing on her head, neck and back. While the diagnosis is shocking, even more devastating is the fact that this type of Stage 4 cancer has a survival rate of only 16%.

The silver lining is that Brianne has been seeing a talented, knowledgeable team of Oncologists and Surgical Oncologists in South Carolina and at Duke University Medical Center. A recent genetic mutation study has confirmed that Brianne also carries the NTRK1 gene mutation, which is likely contributing to the cancer. In November 2018, the FDA approved a drug called Larotrectinib which targets the mutation with the objective of shrinking or eliminating tumors. It is the only drug of its kind and very new. Brianne has gotten approved for the drug. This may be her only hope for survival, other than a series of surgeries which might buy time but probably wouldn’t result in a cure.

* * * * *

And what about Baby Rodriguez? Currently, Brianne is 25 weeks pregnant and carrying a healthy baby. However, her life is in danger as she continues on with the pregnancy. It is likely that Brianne will deliver a very pre-term baby at 28 weeks, so she can then start on the Larotrectinib. If this happens, Baby Rodriguez will stay in the neo-natal intensive care unit for an estimated three months or until the original due date of July 7, 2019.

* * * * *

A few more facts:

1. Brianne and Hector are both still working. However, time off work is eminent. Brianne will need to take an unpaid leave of absence from her job for maternity leave and eventual cancer treatment and/or surgeries. As a young physician (allergist), Hector is still paying off a significant sum of medical school loans and working hard to support his sick wife and growing family.

2. The annual out-of-pocket insurance maximum for Brianne and Baby Rodriguez is $14,000 ($7,000 per individual). This is why I have started the fundraising goal at $25,000. I may change the amount in the future depending on next steps and medical expenses for Brianne and Baby Rodriguez.

3. I have created this Go Fund Me page with the goal of supporting Brianne and Hector mentally, emotionally and financially. They did not ask me to create this page. I am doing so to help show how much hope and love surrounds them! If you have already reached out, please do not feel obligated to donate. Brianne, Hector and our families appreciate all of your positive thoughts and acts of kindness.

4. I will continue to use this page as a way of keeping everyone up-to-date on the health status of Brianne and Baby Rodriguez. If you are interested in receiving updates, you can also contact me at jamie.nadolny@gmail.com.

Please keep Brianne, Hector and Baby Rodriguez in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for supporting their fight for life.







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Today was a big day for us!

Brianne, Hector and I went to an oncology appointment this morning at SCOA (South Carolina Oncology Associates). Brianne is being treated by a physician named Dr. Sullivan, as well as a team of oncologists and surgeons at Duke Cancer Center. Dr. Sullivan shared the results of Brianne’s PET Scan. The good news is there are no new lesions and Brianne’s brain and liver still look clear. The discouraging news is Brianne’s existing masses have grown by a couple of centimeters overall. Our hope is that the Larotrectinib (chemotherapy drug targeting her NTRK1 genetic mutation and cancer) will help shrink or eliminate the tumors. As soon as we got out of the appointment, Brianne took her first dose of Larotrectinib! (See video.)

Our next stop was Prisma Health Richland Hospital to visit Eleanor in the NICU. I finally got to meet my precious niece and the wonderful team of nurses and doctors who are looking after her. Nora is now intubated and breathing on a ventilator. She also has a chest tube to help remove air from around her lung. There have been complications, but Nora’s condition is to be expected considering she was born 12 weeks early. The best part of today was when Brianne finally got to touch Nora for the first time. Like mother, like daughter — these two are fighters!

I haven’t finished sending personal messages to everyone who has donated to this GoFundMe Page. I am working on it! If I haven’t gotten to you yet, please know that you are noticed and appreciated. Thank you so much.

I will continue to post updates here in the coming days/weeks. If you have any questions, I can be reached at jamie.nadolny@gmail.com.
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Baby Rodriguez has made *HER* debut!

Brianne, Hector and our families are blessed to announce that Eleanor Rae Rodriguez was born today, April 15th. The picture is deceiving as she is tiny, weighing only 2 pounds 7 ounces and 14 inches long.

Brianne and baby are now both recovering from the delivery. Brianne had a minor complication and will continue to heal over the next several days. Nora is a feisty fighter and is trying hard to breathe without a ventilator. She truly is a miracle!

Later this evening, Brianne and Hector will finally have a chance to visit Nora in the NICU. More pictures to come!

Thank you again for all of your support, prayers, positive thoughts and encouraging words. What a wonderful way to bring Nora into this world — surrounded by love!
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Thank you again to everyone who has donated to this GoFundMe Page for Brianne, Hector and Baby Rodriguez. We are all so touched by the outpouring of support.

It's been awhile since the last update, but we have all been anxiously waiting for Brianne to reach 28 weeks of pregnancy. Tomorrow afternoon, Brianne will be admitted to Prisma Health Richland Hospital where her maternal fetal medicine doctor and nurse care team will prep her for delivery. Baby Rodriguez is expected to make a debut on Monday, April 15.

Baby Rodriguez will be born very pre-term and is expected to weigh only 2 pounds. If all goes smoothly with delivery, baby will be quickly whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit. It will likely be several hours later -- once baby is stabilized, evaluated and cared for -- when Brianne and Hector will finally get to meet their tiny miracle.

I will post another update on Monday to announce Baby Rodriguez's arrival. In the meantime, please hope (or pray) for a safe, easy and healthy delivery for Brianne and baby.
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Brianne and Hector are blown away by how everyone is rallying around them during this difficult time. Your support is helping to lift their spirits!

Here is a thank-you message from Hector:

"I wanted to thank all the friends, family and neighbors that have shown us all the love and support in recent weeks. To those that attended our wedding you can imagine that I have been a blubbering mess for the last few months. You also know that Bri is much more articulate than I am, so I shared her thanks as well. Whether fortunate enough to have met you from Lugoff/Columbia, Chicago (Chillens!), Nashville or anywhere in between, know that you have given Hope to the most difficult circumstance imaginable and I am humbled and grateful to have each of you in our lives."
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$52,806 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 843 people in 29 days
Created March 23, 2019
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