Welcome to our gofundme page for Lisa!
Lisa is a 35 year old, single mother of 3 kids and she is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for the 3rd time in 6 years. Lisa was originally diagnosed with Stage 4B Hodgkin’s in January 2010. After 6 months of ABVD chemotherapy she was given the news that she was in remission! Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is considered to be a highly curable cancer as 90% of patients who have Hodgkin’s go into remission and remain cancer free. That is not the case for Lisa.
In May of 2013 Lisa went in for one of her routine follow-up PET scans and found out that the Hodgkin’s had returned. Thankfully it was diagnosed very early thanks to the PET scan. Lisa completed two rounds of ICE chemotherapy and 25 days of radiation and was once again told that she was in remission.
Last month Lisa noticed a lump on her neck behind her ear. She went to a Dr. and was told that it was a muscle knot. She was given pain medication and a muscle relaxer and told to massage the area and do some stretching and it should clear up. After a few weeks not only did it not “clear up”, but the lump grew. Dr. King, Lisa’s oncologist, ordered a CT scan just to be sure, given the past medical history and sadly once again Lisa received the devastating phone call that her cancer had returned.
At this point her options are limited. This is the 2nd relapse of this horrible disease and Lisa’s only chance for a cure is a stem cell transplant. Lisa has had her consultation with the transplant team at the University of Minnesota and they agree with Dr. King’s assessment that a transplant is the only viable option.
BCBS of Minnesota continues to deny the U of M claims to get preauthorization for the life savings transplant that Lisa needs. She is fighting hard and doing what she can but this may be a very long battle with BCBS of Minnesota.
Right now Lisa is on Brentuximab, a type of chemotherapy drug, every 3 weeks in the hopes of attaining remission prior to transplant. Her first dose was on August 5 and she will have chemo again on August 26th. The U of M Dr’s want Lisa to have 3 rounds of Brentuximab and then a repeat PET scan to see where her cancer is at. Ideally, she should be in remission prior to harvesting the stem cells but even a 50% reduction in tumor size is acceptable to them. If she is not in complete remission she will require high dose chemotherapy prior to stem cell harvesting.
Before the transplant can happen there are several steps that have to be followed to ensure that she is transplant ready. Lisa will be seeing a dentist on August 17th to get a work up and find out what work needs to be done. She must have all her needed dental work completed prior to transplant so that there is no chance for infection because of any dental concerns. Once her dental work is completed and her post-chemotherapy scans are done she will be scheduled for the U of M’s work-up week. She will spend about 8 hours per day on all 5 days of that week having medical testing done and meeting with the different transplant team members who will be in charge of her care during and after transplant.
Once she is cleared medically following her work-up week she will need to have a Central Line placed which is where they will harvest her stem cells from. Then she will have 7 days of high dose chemotherapy to destroy her current immune system. Once that has been done she will be given the stem cells that were harvested and her new immune system will start to grow! The hope is that this new immune system will be able to fight off any cancer if it tries to return again.
Lisa will require daily trips to the U of M post-transplant for labs, blood transfusions and other testing for at least the first 30 days after she is discharged. Then the visits will hopefully spread out a little further and after Day 100 post transplant her care will hopefully be transferred back to Minnesota Oncology and Dr. King. Lisa will be limited in what she can and cannot do for the first year post transplant and at 1 year and 2 years post transplant she will be required to re-do all of her immunizations. Once you have a stem cell transplant it’s as though you’ve never been immunized before.
The amount of care and treatment that Lisa requires both right now and over the next year is overwhelming as is the cost of that care. Not only are there medical and dental bills that are already stacking up but Lisa will be unable to work during her transplant and for a period of time post transplant. We do not yet know how long that will be because until they do the transplant no one knows how sick she will be or how long it will take to recover. The Dr. said some patients go back to work part-time after a month and some don’t start back to work until a year after transplant.
All donations made to help kick this cancers booty will be used for medical bills, medical supplies and daily living expenses during Lisa’s transplant process. Your donation is so very appreciated and means the world to not only Lisa but also to the kids. They are all going through an incredibly difficult time and being able to worry about one less thing is an incredible gift!
Even if you cannot donate, we ask that you please pray for Lisa and the kids and ask your friends and loved ones to also pray. Prayer can do amazing things and Lisa and the kids could really use a miracle in their lives right now!
You can also follow Lisa’s journey and stay updated on her health by visiting her caringbridge site!