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This fundraiser ended on 04/15/11

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Help Us Help Jill!

Jill is a valuable asset to this world and to her community. She has been a dedicated teacher of English for 25 years and an AVID teacher for six years. AVID is a program that gives students who will be the first in their family to attend college the skills they need to succeed and attend a four year university. She is as passionate about her subject as she is about her students. She loves them both and tends to have a close, caring relationship with them. In addition to English, Jill teaches her students about tolerance.

In an effort to help them become more accepting of others, to help stop the bullying that happens at school, and to create a positive future for her students, each year Jill takes them on a day-long field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Her efforts help create bright future for hundreds of young people on California's
Central Coast.

Jill is blessed with a wonderful husband who is an excellent caregiver and rarely leaves her side. He has been by her side every step of the way during her illness. Together with their lovable dogs, Ben and Bella, Jill and Casey have a very happy and fulfilling life, though lately Jill has not been able to leave the house due to her treatments. They are all excited about the day when Jill will be cancer and treatment free so they can go out into the world and enjoy life even more!

Jill’s cancer treatment is going to last until late May or maybe even June. Up to this point, her fellow teachers have been generously donating their sick leave time to her so she will have not missed a paycheck. However, there is a six-month cap on donated leave, so even though the kindness and generosity of her co-workers has not faded, starting in April Jill will have to pay for her student's substitute out of her paycheck. This will make it impossible to pay her mortgage. Jill has been attempting to deal with the mortgage company but they don't make it easy.

Here is Jill's cancer story:

After two years of being sick and going to doctors for a diagnosis, it was decided Jill had fibrous growths in her pelvic region that needed to be removed. December 2, 2008 she had a hysterectomy and the cancer was discovered. Jill is very fortunate that her gynecologist knew she needed a surgeon who is a gynecological oncologist, and she called Dr. Kate O'Hanlan from the operating room. There are only 1,000 of these specialists in the U.S., and one of the best happens to be at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, California.

On January 6, 2009 Jill had a second surgery to remove the cancer. She was diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer. She had chemotherapy, both in her veins and in her intraperitoneal belly port, from January through May. The chemo in her abdomen made her deathly ill and landed Jill in the hospital for five days at one point. By May she was finished with treatment.

Jill was skinny, bald and weak, but survived. She was able to teach during the 2009-2010 school year, and she and Casey got married on New Year's Eve. At that point, everything was fine and Jill felt like a warrior who had defeated cancer. She had 15 cancer free months.

Jill used that time to practice yoga and began Yoga Flirt practice as well. In March 2010, her CA125 went from 11 to 22. Below 35 is normal, but when it doubles it's a very bad sign. Jill’s doctor decided to wait and do another CA125 the end of June. In June she was in Tahiti helping her sister care for their dying mother, and she missed that appointment. Jill came home the end of July, and a week later discovered a lump in her pelvic region that was externally visible. Jill was having a recurrence, which is common with this type of cancer.

On September 14, 2010 Jill went back to Dr. O'Hanlan and had a second surgery just like the first one. Everyone was expecting a simpler surgery and much less cancer. We were all wrong.

One tumor had attached itself to her colon and the colon had to be cut and put back together. There was a tumor on her abdominal wall and an affected lymph node where her leg meets her body. The lymph node and the colon resection made recovery much more difficult than the first time. Ten days after Jill’s surgery, her beautiful mom died on the other side of the world and she couldn't be there.

It has now been over four months since Jill’s last surgery and her current chemo regimen often leaves her nauseous and unable to do much more than sleep for several days. After round 6 of this treatment she will go into the hospital for four rounds of intraperitoneal chemo. Depending on how ill she gets Jill will either have a one or a two-week break in between those rounds. At the very end she may have radiation.

“I feel so blessed that people care enough about me to help us at this difficult time. I feel positive and confident that my treatment is working and that I will be fine. The community of people who reach out makes this all bearable. It takes a village to defeat cancer!!” ~Jill Pentoney
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