For the past five years I have held a fundraiser for someone through my blog around Christmastime. It is by far the one thing that makes me feel the Christmas spirit more than anything. I ask people to nominate someone who they think would benefit from a little extra help during the holidays. And, each year it has been a beautiful blessing to see how many giving, selfless people there are out there. Strangers donating their hard earned money to another stranger who needs help. Lending a hand to someone who just can’t do it on their own. At this time of year when we celebrate the spirit of giving & love, I’ve seen tender mercies firsthand as money is donated to people who are truly in need of help. I the need to mention that each nomination that came in was truly deserving of some extra help, and I pray that there will be some way that each family or individual who is going through a hard time will be able to find the help they need. This year, I feel like the person who I’ve picked is truly deserving of some extra help. So please, read on & see why…
This is they story of a wonderful woman named Alex. Alex has had cancer 3 times in 10 years, and she is only 42 years old. All 3 cancers were said to be unrelated, and two of them were extremely rare.
When she was 32 years old, she started feeling itchy on her palms and legs. She had always been very healthy and rarely every got sick, so she thought it was nothing. She tried different lotions and creams, but nothing seemed to help. Her doctor ran some blood work, and thought she may have a gallstone causing precipitated bile salts. They did a test where they stuck a camera down her throat into her stomach and duodenum, took a biopsy, and discovered she had a malignant tumor on her ampulla of vater, which is where the common bile duct, duodenum, and pancreas all meet.
Ampullary cancer is extremely rare, and only accounts for less than 1% of gastrointestinal malignancies. She would need part of her pancreas, duodenum, bile duct, and gallbladder removed, which is called the “Whipple procedure.” The procedure is very involved with a pretty scary mortality rate. It just so happened the doctor who actually invented the surgical procedure was in L.A. where Alex was living, and offered to do her surgery. She made it through, underwent four rounds of chemo, and was then cancer free.
In 2009, about 5 years later, she found a bump on her leg. She went to the dermatologist, who thought it was a cyst and removed it. It grew back, so she went back in, and had it removed a second time. It grew back a third time, and after being misdiagnosed by two different pathology labs, they finally sent it to a specialty lab in Houston before it was finally diagnosed in 2011 as a Leiomyosarcoma, a very rare and dangerous smooth muscle connective tissue cancer that often spreads to the uterus or lungs. They had caught it in time and it had not spread, and the cancer was completely removed during surgery, leaving her cancer free a second time.
Due to her history, her doctors had her on very close watch. Her scans last summer were clean. Then about 9 months later, she felt a lump. She went in to get it checked, had a mammogram and had the lump biopsied, and was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. She’s currently halfway through chemo, and on her way to being cancer free for a third time.
Alex has been through the ringer the past ten years, battling 3 very different cancers, 3 different times. While everyone around her is begging the question “why is this happening, again, to such an amazing person??” she overcomes each challenge one at a time with courage and resilience. The most important thing to her is her family and friends. She is the glue that holds her family together; always making sure everyone is having a good time, laughing, and connecting. Even with her health insurance coverage, the out of pocket and out of network costs have been astronomical.
My favorite part about this special time of year is that we put other’s needs and wants before our own. THAT is the true spirit of Christmas-thinking of others & helping those who need extra help. I love the scripture that talks about how to everything there is a season. I know there are seasons in our lives when we are able to give to someone…and that one day it might be the season for us to receive the help & assistance from others. May you find it in your hearts to help Alex get on the road to recovery XOXO, marielle.
Any dollar amount will be accepted. 100% of the donations received will be given to to assist Alex with her medical bills. The photograph of the leaves will be emailed to you in high resolution format. The photograph is then yours to print, frame, give as a gift, use as a desktop photo, etc. The photograph will not have my watermark on the image. ALL of the proceeds will be given to Alex to help her during this difficult time in her lives. Donate any dollar amount by clicking on the PayPal button below.