Ellen's Breast Cancer Fight

$20,450 of $22,000 goal

Raised by 260 people in 28 months
Hello friends and family. I've created this campaign to help raise money to fund my breast cancer fight. As you can imagine, my sudden diagnosis presents a huge family burden, emotionally, physically and financially. Many people have asked how they can help me get through this, and I appreciate your support--all forms of it, including giving hugs, sending positive thoughts and prayers, taking my kids out to play, taking my husband for a beer, bringing meals to my house, and providing financial assistance.

I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma on Oct 20, 2015. In my left breast lives an aggressive tumor that has spread to a lymph node. I noticed it when weaning the twins. They started rejecting the left side during feedings and I began to produce less and less on that side, so I decided to stop using it altogether, despite continuing to nurse them on the right side.
I've read that your milk can take on a funny bitter taste when cancer is present, so my girls really helped to accellerate the process of finding this bugger.
I noticed after weaning the left side that my breast never returned to normal. Typically the breast will harden and then the milk dries up and it relaxes again. This just never happened.
I went to my gynecologist who ordered a mamogram, ultrasound and biopsy immediately. In a matter of days, I was diagnosed with cancer, had a PET/CT scan and breast MRI, met surgeons, oncologists, had genetic testing, and more. I've never had so many doctor's appointments in my life.

Many of you know that my sister died of brain cancer in 2006. She lived 3 years with the disease. To say that my diagnosis was scary at first is an understatement. Knowing what she went through, what my family (especially my mother) went through, and fearing the worst was certainly consuming me. Now, only a week later, I have more clarity. Here's what I know and what I'm focusing on (and you should too):
1. I have the most common breast cancer there is.
2. My tumor is estrogen-receptor positive, meaning without estrogen it will likely not survive. So we will rid my body of that hormone.
3. My tumor is HER2+, meaning it is wildly aggressive. But this also means I can have targeted treatment and can go on a clinical trial involving hormone therapy at the same time I start chemo.
4. My tumor isn't fixed. It is entirely movable, which means when my surgeon removes it, she will GET THE WHOLE THING. Same goes for my lymph node.
5. I will eventually have new boobs. And new hair.

As you can imagine, all of this treatment and surgery is very costly. I met my deductible in the first three days of being diagnosed, and am working on the out-of-pocket maximum amount. I will reach that by the end of the year, and then after Jan 1, my insurance cycles through again. So I will have a new deductible to meet and new out-of-pocket cost to bear. I estimate that when all is said and done, I will owe upwards of $12,000.
I am not one to ask for money, or even ask for help for that matter. But I reach out to you in this time of great need to help me and my family recover--emotionally, physically and financially.

I am forever grateful for your genersity and the outpouring of love and support many of you have already extended.

Ultimately, I will see my children grow up (Dillon is 4, Emma and Ryley are 1), I will live to be an old lady with John by my side, and I will hold you all a bit closer than ever before. Most of all, I will kick this cancer's ass.
+ Read More
Hi Friends! The UC Health Insider published a piece on me today. Thought it might interest you.
https://uchealth.org/today/news/cancer-patients-get-help-with-matters-of-the-heart?utm_source=Insider&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Cardio-oncology%20program%20

Thanks again for all of your support!

xo,
Ellen
+ Read More
Hello friends! Here we are, one year after diagnosis. I can't believe it's been a year since hearing the words "you have invasive ductal carcinoma." It feels more like 10 have passed, though thankfully my children are still little (albeit much more mature than your standard 2 and 5 year-olds).
I am truly a different person a year later, inside and out. I have very short hair (but hair nonetheless!) and I'm trying to get used to the face I see in the mirror every day. I'm taking new headshots for the magazines this week, so the official unveiling of my new look will hit newsstands in January. Though I've been appearing in several short sewing videos here and there on our social channels, so technically I have "come out" to the world with my short hair already.

Aside from my hair being different, obviously I have no breasts. Right now I have expanders that have been blown up with saline over the course of 6 months to stretch my muscle and skin in order to accept the actual implants. The expanders are hard and don't move AT ALL. It's very difficult to sleep with these boulders attached to my chest. Every time I hug someone, it feels (to them) like hugging a rock wall...or as a friend put it "shot put balls." I cannot roll over in bed without uncomfortable pain. It has made sleeping through the night nearly impossible. But I know it's only temporary and I DON'T HAVE CANCER ANYMORE, so I can deal.

For now, I have ONE infusion of herceptin to go and that's taking place on Halloween. The herceptin has given me cardiomyopathy, so now I see a cardiologist and have my heart monitored every month (echocardiograms) with extensive blood work before and after each treatment. It's a bummer, but reversible once I'm done taking the drug. And, again, I DON'T HAVE CANCER ANYMORE, so I can deal.

After the last infusion, I'll have some follow-ups and then on to pre-op appointments for my exchange surgery, when the expanders come out and the implants go in. I cannot wait to have squishy "boobs" that move a bit more. I've been told I will be able to roll over without pain and sleep on whichever side I choose. Oh lordy, I cannot wait. This happens Dec 9, and then I'll be resting and recovering at home until the end of the year.

After this surgery, in 2017, I'll have one final outpatient procedure, some tattooing (you all can google this if you want all the deets), and then it's quarterly visits with my oncologist. And biannual visits with my surgical team. Currently I'm seeing at least one doctor every week or two and have been for a year, so this will feel like nothing! I'll also continue my Aromasin for at least 10 years (oral chemo combating the estrogen that's left in my body).

I cannot thank you all enough for your support and love through all of this. I'd like to call out a few friends by name, the ones who came and visited during treatments and surgery recovery. Jennifer Burgess, thank you for treating my kids like your own. Erica Morris and Katy Villari, my sisters from another mister. Barb LeMaster, Michelle Fitton and Kathy Child, the "aunties." Joyce Oster, one of my rocks. Lori Gelhaar, what a surprise! I don't remember all of our conversations, but I remember you being there. My kids remember you being there. My husband remembers you being there. My mom remembers you being there.

Thank you for being there. In person or virtually. It means the world.

I'll send along another update after my last surgery and then will close this page when we say goodbye and good riddance to 2016. Let's move on!

Oh, and go get a mammogram. Pretty please.

xoxo,
Ellen
+ Read More
Here I am, 5 weeks past surgery. My pathology report came back and I had a COMPLETE response to the chemo! That's right, folks. All the tissue removed and 12 lymph nodes--it was all benign!
My oncologist said she never expected this result with my tumor size and staging. Only 20-30% of patients in my situation have a complete response. So this is wonderful news!
I'm recovering well and as expected. I have a couple more weeks until radiation begins, and then I'll have that every day for 6 weeks. And I still have infusions every three weeks (HER-2 targeting antibodies), so I can't have my port removed until November. I'll have my second surgery in September, which I'm told has a much easier recovery.
For now, I'm back at work and CANCER FREE. Plus, I have eyebrows! Still waiting on some more hair to grow on my head before I ditch the scarves and burn them. (Ok, I won't burn them...I'll pass them along to my fellow warriors!)
I still have a lot left to do before I can put this behind me, but the hardest parts are over. Phew.
I thank you all so much for your love and support!
xoxo
Ellen
+ Read More
The day is finally here: surgery eve! I will check in at 6am tomorrow morning for the double mastectomy and opharectomy. I'm excited to get all the cancer out of my body, but terrified at the same time. I have a wonderful team of doctors, and a fantastic husband all taking care of me tomorrow. So think good thoughts for a speedy recovery!

Again, thank you all for your support and love!

xoxoxo
Ellen
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update
Lori Orthaus Gelhaar
16 months ago

You are amazing! What a year! I wish I was there to give you a HUGE hug even though it would be like hugging a rock wall. :) Tell everyone hi! Miss you all!

+ Read More
Dianne Martinez
16 months ago

I think of you often Ellen and more than appreciate your surprise packages to me during YOUR ILLNESS. I could not be happier for your outcome and you'll always be the extra little daughter with Gina during those fun years you girls were together and brought your mom and me together. Keep posting if you can and I'm sure your positivity outlook helped more than you know. You deserve a wonderful 2017.

+ Read More
Sharon Mahaffey
16 months ago

Sorry to hear this Ellen. I knew I hadn't saw you on TV, but didn't know what had happened. I enjoy your show so much and hopefully you will be back soon. Praying for you and your family.

+ Read More
Diane Rencher
20 months ago

I am so sorry to hear of this, Ellen. I miss u on TV. Please concentrate on getting healthy! We all love u! I am praying for your health and well being, and peace of mind for u and your led ones!

+ Read More
Darci Wilson
20 months ago

I shared your account on Pinterest. I hope it has helped. :) Glad you are doing well. Love watching your show.

+ Read More
Jane Clausen
24 months ago

I am just thrilled for you that you have finished the chemo. This is great news. Praying for your strength as you meet the remainder of your challenges. Love, Ron and Jane

+ Read More
Katrina Bohnet Walker
24 months ago

Congratulations, Ellen!!!!! So glad you're through the chemo phase. Way to hang tough and keep your chin up through this crummy ordeal! Onward and upward!!!

+ Read More
Jane Clausen
25 months ago

Wonderful to see you at work and then to meet your mom and son the next day. Continued prayers for you.

+ Read More
Lucy Anderson
26 months ago

Good cheer over the Christmas holidays. May your chemo not bother you as much! Hugs to your family during this time.

+ Read More
Jane Clausen
26 months ago

Christmas love and good cheer to you, Ellen and love to your family, as well.

+ Read More
Adriane Howze
27 months ago

Your positive outlook and strength is inspiring. My thoughts are with you and your family as you fight your way through this. Keep an eye out for an Amazon package this Friday. It should bring some cheer to your kiddos. Sending hugs and healing thoughts. xoxo

+ Read More
Carol Ann Richardson Davis
27 months ago

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I know you definitely will 'kick cancer's ass'. I absolutely love watching your show and look forward to you hopefully being back on it again, once you are past all this.

+ Read More
Lucia Alongi Ellul
27 months ago

My heartfelt prayers to you and your family. We met at the American Sewing Expo several years ago. You will beat this !!!

+ Read More

$20,450 of $22,000 goal

Raised by 260 people in 28 months
Created October 30, 2015
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
   Connect
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
$250
Anonymous
9 months ago
JM
$50
Janet Moloney
13 months ago

Ellen I have been watching reruns of your show which I love to watch. Your smile and demeanor remind me of my daughter. I decided to google you and just read your story of breast cancer. Im so sorry and pray for a speedy recovery and look forward to new shows. ;)

IJ
$50
Ivalyn Jones-Actie
15 months ago

God bless you and your family. I'm a long-time Sew News subscriber and just learned of your illness.

CO
$100
Chuck Olson
15 months ago

We are praying for a speedy recovery.

HC
$200
Helen (LUCY) Coullard
16 months ago

Dear Ellen I'm so happy to hear you are doing so well. our family sends you prayers, hugs and love. You and John have a beautiful family. John it has been so many years, but I love the beautiful pictures of your family. Love Aunt Lucy and Uncle sKIP.

$100
Anonymous
16 months ago
$25
Anonymous
16 months ago
VW
$100
V Wilson
16 months ago

Much love and strength to you and your family, girl.

Lori Orthaus Gelhaar
16 months ago

You are amazing! What a year! I wish I was there to give you a HUGE hug even though it would be like hugging a rock wall. :) Tell everyone hi! Miss you all!

+ Read More
Dianne Martinez
16 months ago

I think of you often Ellen and more than appreciate your surprise packages to me during YOUR ILLNESS. I could not be happier for your outcome and you'll always be the extra little daughter with Gina during those fun years you girls were together and brought your mom and me together. Keep posting if you can and I'm sure your positivity outlook helped more than you know. You deserve a wonderful 2017.

+ Read More
Sharon Mahaffey
16 months ago

Sorry to hear this Ellen. I knew I hadn't saw you on TV, but didn't know what had happened. I enjoy your show so much and hopefully you will be back soon. Praying for you and your family.

+ Read More
Diane Rencher
20 months ago

I am so sorry to hear of this, Ellen. I miss u on TV. Please concentrate on getting healthy! We all love u! I am praying for your health and well being, and peace of mind for u and your led ones!

+ Read More
Darci Wilson
20 months ago

I shared your account on Pinterest. I hope it has helped. :) Glad you are doing well. Love watching your show.

+ Read More
Jane Clausen
24 months ago

I am just thrilled for you that you have finished the chemo. This is great news. Praying for your strength as you meet the remainder of your challenges. Love, Ron and Jane

+ Read More
Katrina Bohnet Walker
24 months ago

Congratulations, Ellen!!!!! So glad you're through the chemo phase. Way to hang tough and keep your chin up through this crummy ordeal! Onward and upward!!!

+ Read More
Jane Clausen
25 months ago

Wonderful to see you at work and then to meet your mom and son the next day. Continued prayers for you.

+ Read More
Lucy Anderson
26 months ago

Good cheer over the Christmas holidays. May your chemo not bother you as much! Hugs to your family during this time.

+ Read More
Jane Clausen
26 months ago

Christmas love and good cheer to you, Ellen and love to your family, as well.

+ Read More
Adriane Howze
27 months ago

Your positive outlook and strength is inspiring. My thoughts are with you and your family as you fight your way through this. Keep an eye out for an Amazon package this Friday. It should bring some cheer to your kiddos. Sending hugs and healing thoughts. xoxo

+ Read More
Carol Ann Richardson Davis
27 months ago

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I know you definitely will 'kick cancer's ass'. I absolutely love watching your show and look forward to you hopefully being back on it again, once you are past all this.

+ Read More
Lucia Alongi Ellul
27 months ago

My heartfelt prayers to you and your family. We met at the American Sewing Expo several years ago. You will beat this !!!

+ Read More
or
Or, use your email…
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.