Team Santos Cancer Relief Fund

$7,640 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 64 people in 1 month
Created May 8, 2019
Team Santos
on behalf of Lazaro Santos
Life is a grab bag of surprises, isn’t it? Some days are an absolute prize. Other days aren’t as winning. On one of those days, she takes a trip to the ER on account of excruciating pain in her hips.  She reaches into the bag, and pulls out a piece of paper. She unfolds it to read the message life had sent: Cancer. Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma . The scans show clusters of tumors -- a massive one on her chest, explaining why she’d often become short of breath and the ones in her groin area, culprits of the pain that brought her into the ER. Her brother takes her out for a burger, something normal to temper the shock.

What comes next?

Who is she anyway? She is our sister. She is our mother and father’s daughter. She is a friend, a girlfriend, a beloved. She could be anyone, and she is everything to us.  Her name is Katrina.

If you’ve ever had Cancer’s bony little grim-reaper fingers reach out and touch your life, you know that Cancer SUCKS. This story might be a familiar one.  If you’re one that’s never gotten the misfortune cookie reading “Cancer,” I have faith in your empathy that you’ll read on.

In the year after her diagnosis Katrina faced a series of tests, scans, biopsies, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. The stories that we’ve heard about cancer started to come true for her.  She experienced extreme fatigue, hair loss, a change in taste buds that put her off most foods, and the deterioration of fine motor skills in her hands. She was also in a medically-induced menopause to offset the chance that chemo would make her sterile.  Amazingly, she managed to keep her sense of humor. One day, in a chemo hangover daze, she slowly made her way into the kitchen for something to eat. She picked up a kiwi-fruit, looked at it for a second then said, “This is what I feel my head looks like.” She giggled to herself as she put the fruit back into the basket.

In February of 2018, nearly a year after her initial diagnosis, we finally got to celebrate the official news that she was cancer free!!

Transitioning back to “normal life” was the next hurdle. Katrina returned to work on a limited 4-hour work day. Chemo and radiation are rough on the body, and recuperation was an uphill climb after treatment. We in her family saw her face this challenge with patience, courage, and a determination to take back ownership over her life. We’ve all been so proud of her and humbled by the poise with which she walks her journey.  With each step, she regains hope for a future full of possibilities.

Fast forward to one year into remission:

A routine CT scans sends up red flags.  Follow up tests and a biopsy would confirm that her cancer was in recurrence. For the second time, Katrina was given a diagnosis of Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Her doctors put together a more aggressive treatment plan. It includes four chemotherapy sessions over the course of four months and a stem-cell transplant .  Due to the aggressive nature of the fourth chemo treatment and of the stem-cell transplant, she is told she will need hospital stays both times for recovery. She finds herself at Forever 21, buying new headscarves for when she loses her hair again.

As a family, we’re preparing ourselves for the mental and emotional challenges on the road ahead. We all want to do our best to support our Katrina through treatment and recovery.  Part of that challenge is facing the the financial strains of taking on cancer for the second time. While insurance will help, we still need to make up a large remainder of the costs. This is why we are reaching out to you and wherever there might be hope for relief.  Through cancer and beyond it, we have to believe in those little pockets of life that are truly magical.

We’ve got our arms around Katrina, and our eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re asking for your help to get us there.

Your kind donations will go towards relieving the following costs:

chemotherapy treatment
co-pay for doctor’s visits
follow-up CT and PET scans
hospital stays needed for recovery
stem-cell transplant and recovery
infertility plan (egg retrieval)

Tentatively, her treatment will start in June 2019.

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So it's official, they're putting in a central line and the surgery [small procedure] is scheduled for the 3rd of July. I know that in the long run having a port put in will make things run smoother and faster. A central line goes through the larger veins rather than the smaller ones when an IV is put in, therefore causing less irritation. It was honestly so painful I'm kind of glad I don't have to go through that again. It was just a surgery I was hoping to avoid. [big sigh] partly of relief partly in exasperation. I was finding myself wanting to just zip forward in time to Christmas because at least by then I'll know I'll be completely finished with everything [if all goes to plan]
My recent days have been filled with the new side effects from the new drugs, and while expected, there's no preparing you for what actually happens. I had blinding headaches and ridiculous nausea, mostly in part of the foul mouth feeling the drugs gave me. This affected my appetite and general feeling. The most I could do is hydrate and hope I could wash and detox my way out of the swamp of bad feelings. A lady I ran into the yesterday while out on my first good day since treatment, recommended Pau d'Arco, a bark tea that she said her husband drank to help detox from the chemo drugs. He's since passed, but she assured me it'd help along with another tea, Essiac. I picked up the Pau d'Arco at our local Lifesource and tried it out. I had been warned it was a little bitter so I mixed it with a little bit of another herbal tea called [wait for it you guys who call me hippy dippy] "Love rose" tea. I needed a little love that day, why not.
[This honestly brings me to a different tangent about a conversation I had with my neighbor about psychic cords and how your relationship with yourself really affects your health] She said to me, when you're feeling real sick, you need to talk to your body parts like they're an estranged lover and you want them back. Desperately but genuinely. Needless to say, we can call it meditation, I've been trying to practice more self love and setting the tone of language I speak to myself about myself. I, like many people, struggle with insecurities like self worth and self esteem issues. Getting sick [again] didn't help because I felt like I spent this last year really trying to get back on my feet again. I was literally feeling like I was out of the gate when I got diagnosed again. So, as my neighbor put it, perhaps there was a life lesson I was still not gaining and this was a way the universe could get my attention. Self worth is something of a real struggle. She said, "you have to be willing to be willing" Honestly the whole conversation was mind blowing, and something I really needed to hear. I spend so much time beating myself up for not trying hard enough, I need to think that if this were one of my friends going through this I would certainly not talk to them the way I talk to myself. I'm a bit of a bully, you'd say. Well, I suppose first thing's first. I'll stand up to myself for myself. Then we can move on from there. It really does help to read your words of encouragement and messages of prayers and good intentions. I love you guys. Thank you again.
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Thank you for all the well wishes everyone :) I'm headed to the second round today with my parents. While this treatment is only two drugs vs the four I was on last time, the second drug requires a second dose the following day. Plus side itll only be ten minutes they say. Second treatment is slated for first of week of July so I'll have some time to catch up. Feeling very fortunate you guys dont make me feel alone
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Hey all! Heres an update and a photo of my tummy the last day of hormone injections. Thankfully there were no complications before and after.
The egg retrieval was a success! They were able to get 17 mature eggs :) While I'm still waddling around a little sore and swollen feeling, I'm doing well all things considered. Next step is chemotherapy and that will probably be in the next week or so.
Thanks again for all your support and love! The other pictures are snapshots of an insta post I saw a few days ago and it stuck with me. This whole process would be so much more difficult without you guys.
Lots of love,
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Hey all! In the few short weeks this site has been up we’ve received an outpour of love and support from all over, friends and family alike. We cannot be more grateful, and we hope to continue this momentum til our goal can be reached!

I’ve since begun fertility preservation, a cycle of daily hormone injections leading to an egg retrieval procedure. This is a whole process that is rarely covered by insurance and an expensive decision. I was not a candidate the first time around because the growths in my chest were too risky for the procedure, and I needed to begin treatment immediately. This time I have the chance and I wanted to take it. Today, is my first scan since beginning these injections and we get to see how well my body is taking it. I’m scheduled for periodic visits throughout the week (every 1-3 days they say) with lab draws each time. Projected procedure date is 01June-07June. Chemotherapy is tentatively slated for the same week, sometime after the procedure. Followed by a stem cell transplant, but more on that later.

At first I was apprehensive about being public with going through the egg retrieval, what with it being an elective medicine and all. I have since left work, because what I do is high risk with the range of motions I am supposed to be avoiding. I mentioned this to my co worker because I certainly felt remorse for having to leave for what seemed like a small reason since some people are able to work during this process. She just said, “Your body is also trying to kill itself while you’re going through this and you haven’t treated it yet!” I suppose when you put it that way.. I wouldn't even be able to have this option if it weren't for all of you. I will be perpetually grateful.

Update: (05/26)
All went well with the ultrasound! My parents came up from Salem and we went to breakfast after. They brought with them some snacks and a sweet new kit from DJ and Brit for my daily shots!

I'll post more updates as they happen, we also have a facebook where we'll likely post more updates as well :)
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$7,640 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 64 people in 1 month
Created May 8, 2019
Team Santos
on behalf of Lazaro Santos
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