Meet mother and daughter (Shiela and Hailey, respectively). Both diagnosed in 2012 with Hodgkin's Lymphoma within two months of each other.
Here is Shiela's historical account of her family's struggle since last Fall: "My daughter Hailey and I were recently diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma Nodular Sclerosing Type - Stage 2A in the Fall of 2012. I am 42, and Hailey is my first born child, age 16. I am the mother of 6 children, all from the same father (Darell Johnston) - to whom I've been married since 1995. Our dual diagnosis is considered a medical phenomenon. We will be entered in a blood cancer study in Washington DC, but there are no current government studies on Hodgkin's disease and genetics at this time. Last summer, I was sick with a respiratory illness that led me to seek medical help. I was sent home with antibiotics, but I did not get better. In October, I developed other symptoms (lumps on my neck and coughing attacks) that suggested I was very ill and needed testing. After scans and biopsies, I was officially diagnosed by a team of pathology specialists. Just a few weeks later, Hailey went through an almost identical process, to our horror. Our primary physician called me to read her chest x-ray results and told me there was a mass that required a closer look... she needed a CT-Scan. I felt as if I had been clubbed in the stomach as he said these words. Hailey was seen by the Levine Children's Pediatric Hematology and Oncology office in Charlotte. Our nurse angel, Kathryn, gave us play-by-play information on what to expect and informed us on how she would guide us through every step of the treatment and survival ("survivorship") process. I had begun my treatments close to home, but transferred my care to Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte so that Hailey and I would be getting treatments at the same hospital campus. At the time of my own diagnosis, I was a typical soccer mom, chauffeuring my children to after school events, and taking care of household responsibilities. I also homeschool two special-needs children (our daughter, Christa has a hand disability and suffers from seizures and our son Ryan, born a preemie in 2002 with several feeding issues in his first year suffers from ADHD and mild dyslexia). The cancer diagnosis changed our household routine so drastically, we didn't initially know what we would do with all of our responsibilities. On top of this, the stress was unbelievably high as my husband was in his first year of a new job and needed to stay focused on his work as much as possible. The staff at my husband's place of employment have been very supportive of our family's struggle. Several co-workers have reached out with well-wishes, cards, housecleaning help, and meals. Our dear friends in our hometown have also encircled us with an outpouring of love. At Christmas time, the work of two women resulted in multiple gifts for our children. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of people from several counties and churches -- all spearheaded by one of my best friends, a very large amount of volunteering began in the way of providing 3 meals a week during December, January, February and March as well as many rides to and from the hospital for our chemotherapy and radiation treatments and ongoing child care. A homeschool support group and two local churches were at the forefront of volunteerism. I underwent chemo from late November, until Mid- March. I am now undergoing radiation. Hailey had chemo while inpatient at Levine Children's Hospital from mid-December until the end of February. She completed radiation treatments on March 28. Currently, we are just trying to get through the end of the school-year. Physically, Hailey and I have been very ill from the treatments, we both lost all of our hair and we are dealing with many other side effects such as fatigue, skin and nail issues, and difficulty maintaining good nutrition, due to cell loss in the mouth and throat areas. In terms of how this has affected us financially -- it has definitely caused us to pause and wonder how we will deal. While we do have health insurance, it only covers 70%. I am currently waiting to have meetings with Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC as well as the billing dept of Carolina's Medical Center in order to make sense of the six-inch pile of bills and EOB's that we have received. It is very complicated and confusing for me, and was too overwhelming to handle while I was sick from chemotherapy. We have a balance that is ever-increasing that has already exceeded $60,000 between all of the tests, therapies, inpatient hospital stays and specialist appointments. The number grows daily as we continue radiation and testing." Shiela and Hailey and their family deeply appreciate all efforts made to help them with these medical expenses. Thank you.