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A new baby+mom's cancer= help!

$5,631 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 81 people in 6 months
Created 30 April 2018
Corey Family Fundraiser
on behalf of Birgit Vanderstraeten
Rocky and Birgit Corey have had a rough few weeks. "Baby Ryan" (coined by big brother,  Ben) arrived 5 weeks early and just under 5 pounds.  He spent a few extra days in the hospital,  but was able to come home soon after.  
Unfortunately,  that is where the happy news ends.  Birgit, Ben and Ryan's mom,  found out only a few days after Ryan's birth that she has cancer.  And a LOT of it.  The type that makes holding your new baby difficult.  The kind that makes you fight.  The kind you pray did not get passed along to your child.  
Now both parents are out of work and the long journey to fight this monster is just beginning.  We have food,  family,  and friends.  What we need is financial assistance to keep them going.  Cancer is NOT CHEAP. 
These are the kind of people who love your children like their own.  I know.  My kids call Birgit their "other mom". They have been there for my children over the past  3 years consistently.  Veteran,  law enforcement officer,  immigrant-turned-citizen. These are the people I am asking you to help. Please consider giving what you can. And if you can't give,  SHARE!
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First things first, having cancer sucks! There is no nice way to say it. The meds, the side effects, the hospital stays, the doctor visits where you're surrounded by 50 other cancer patients....it just all sucks.

But then there are nice moments. Getting cards from friends I went to high school with in Belgium; some made me cry, others made me laugh! I did not expect it at all, and to read all those well wishes (13 cards!) made me feel very fortunate. I haven't talked to most since 2009, at our high school 5-year reunion; but we follow one another on Facebook. So reading all those cards meant a lot to me. Thank you!

I also want to take some time to thank my law enforcement family. Even though I don't have the badge and gun, y'all have made me feel part of the family, even more so since the cancer diagnosis. Thank you for all the gifts for Ryan and myself, for all the donations, for raising funds on my behalf, and for sending me little cards every week (yes, I really do look forward to receiving them each week!). Shout-out to my boss Lauren, HR, Deputy Director and Chief, for securing my job (not a given in the US). My dear colleague Kathy, I might not be there to annoy you in our office before you retire, but I will be there to see you ring that bell!!! Don't you dare do it without me! You better swear it on a jar of pickles :-)

Now for the update, I went to the oncologist yesterday (6/13). Blood results were good. Heart rate and blood pressure were back in normal range. No more fevers. My appetite is back, but I'm still losing weight. They will do a CT scan at my next appointment (7/5) to evaluate my progress, and maybe switch me to the immunotherapy infusions. They talked to the billing department and assured me Tricare does cover it, which is a major relief (a 12,000 dollars a month kind or relief). Trying to get my strength back, trying to walk and not use the wheel chair/walker. Baby steps... more than a figure of speech.

Birgit
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Ups and downs. This roller coaster is not coming to a stop anytime soon.
Thank goodness for medications that treat cancer!!! Through a fluke, Birgit was able to have a repeat CT scan that shows the tumors are SHRINKING! This is exactly what the two primary treatments are designed to do and should continue to work over the next several months. Once these treatments reach their maximum potential, the treatment will switch and focus on immunotherapy. Not as rapid, but much longer lasting. Hopefully, insurance, doctors, and Birgit’s body are all in agreement and these treatments work as expected.
Unfortunately, fatigue and nausea are the factors that drain her energy. She has managed some outings with her family, but is tired a lot of the time. Most recently, a fever and low hemoglobin have landed her in ICU for observation purposes. So far, no source of infection has been found, and this may be yet another side effect of the cancer medications. So we wait....And we wait....And the doctors order more tests...and we wait some more.
Meanwhile, the family continues to manage the day to day. Ryan is no longer a preemie! He is a healthy, chubby cheeked, happy baby. Ben is being an awesome brother, singing songs, and teaching Ryan how to be a proper boy, toddler style. Birgit’s parents have the chaos at home firmly in hand. They have a routine in place that works for everyone and is making things so much easier for Birgit.
Birgit is extremely grateful for the outporing of donations, gifts, and love. Please continue to send well wishes, happy thoughts, love, and support. It is a welcome distraction.
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All I can say is wow! How amazing is it that we are already at 50% of the goal. Thanks to every person that has given of their own resources in order to support the family. From gas money to diapers, formula, medical bills, and the occasionaly run to Taco Bell, this money is going to be used to support the family and relieve just a little of the stress they are under. For those that have given donations, thank you a 1000 times. You can continue to support the family through cards, well wishes, and encouraging others to also give.
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It seems the theme of this undesired journey has been "for every positive report, there is an equally undesirable report".
Good news first. Baby Ryan has shown no signs of cancer. This is HUGE. MRI and opthamology have cleared him thus far. The next year will require continual checkups to ensure there are no signs of cancer. But whew! Also, the type of melanoma Birgit has is one that responds well to an excellent treatment. I won't get into the specifics, but it's very good. One that has, in many cases, shrunk the size of tumors to the point of being able to surgically remove or go away on their own.

Now for the not so good news. Some cancers occur, form a tumor and grow in place. This one has taken on a life of its own. Birgit is tough, but cancer is painful. Especially when it is in most of the abdomen and, now, in the bones. And to make matters worse, insurance. Enough said. Once the news of this GREAT treatment was delivered, the hospital put in the orders to insurance. And then waited. And got denied. Then waited some more. Then got approved. And then....waited. Seriously?!?! This isn't elective medicine! This is CANCER. It took several days for Birgit to begin receiving any form of treatment. With a cancer that continues to spread through her body day after day.

As of today, Birgit is receiving treatment at home. She is surrounded by her perfect, beautiful children and amazing husband. Her parents were able to change their plans and fly over sooner than expected. And the love of everyone that has sent messages, cards, called, posted, or donated is deeply appreciated. Keep the prayers and positive thoughts coming. Oh....and the donations, too. After all Medicine=money.
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$5,631 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 81 people in 6 months
Created 30 April 2018
Corey Family Fundraiser
on behalf of Birgit Vanderstraeten
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