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18 donations

This fundraiser ended on 10/20/10

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Brandie is a 31 year old mother with a cancer so rare it doesn't even have a name. We're raising money for her to travel for treatment.

A few weeks before Christmas last year (2009), I sat with my friend eating sushi having a drink and laughing almost non-stop as we talked. We never could have imagined then how quickly her life was about to change. She had been complaining of shoulder pain and couldn't seem to figure out how it started or why it wasn't getting any better. At dinner that night she told me that she had an appointment with her doctor in a few days to check it out. She'd been feeling fatigued and thought she might be coming down with something. She actually got sick at the restaurant but we chalked it up to a bad choice of pairing sushi with that ridiculous fruity drink she ordered. She went home early with plans to get some rest. That was a Monday. Tuesday she was feeling worse and sure she was coming down with the flu. Thursday she saw her doctor, who took an x-ray of her shoulder. Friday she was asked to return for an MRI to further investigate a dark spot at the edge of the picture. Within 24 hours she was admitted to the UAB hospital and later told that she had a 5 cm cancerous tumor growing in her chest. The tumor was pressing on a nerve and causing the shoulder pain. Unsure if she would be home for Christmas, everything changed. Brandie is only 31 years old. She and husband, Richard have a 4 year old daughter, Emma. Since December, all of Brandie's energy has been spent fighting for her life and trying to find answers about her condition. She was forced to quit her job and Richard had to take on more work so that they could survive on a single income and cope with constantly increasing medical bills. In the months since her diagnosis Brandie has seen more doctors than any of us can count and been given several diagnoses, all of which have been retracted. She has been poked with needles to the point that her arms were black and blue all over. She's been cut open, pumped full of poison, drained of her blood and forced to repeat the details of her story to an infinite stream of over-confident interns. She has been in and out of the hospital, had multiple blood transfusions and received months of chemotherapy. She has been in constant pain in spite of the heavy narcotics prescribed to her (most of which would render a grown man useless, if even alive). Brandie finally found a wonderful oncologist at St. Vincent's Bruno Cancer Center this spring and has since undergone treatment there. He's never seen a cancer like hers in his career. Her scans have been sent all over the country and no one seems to be able to identify this cancer. The current diagnosis is "primary unknown carcinoma" (even though they say it is not a carcinoma but that's the closest thing to that they know of). The tumor itself is a "poorly differentiated mediastinal mass" which basically means she has a big cancerous tumor in her chest. Brandie recently concluded a 6-week treatment cycle that required her to go to St. Vincent's every day, Monday through Friday to receive radiation treatments and also receive chemotherapy once a week. At the conclusion of this treatment her doctor, though not ready to give up, said the chances of her tumor having shrunk enough to be operable is "very, very, very slim." He talked to her about Hospice and changing her goal to "staying comfortable." In September, she will have a final scan to measure the results of the radiation. Not willing to give up, Brandie would very much like to travel to a national cancer center like M.D. Anderson or the Mayo Clinic. When she meets with her doctor in September, she'll learn more about potential opportunities for clinical trials or other research projects. Unfortunately, on their limited income and with her medical bills now approaching $50,000, Brandie and Richard simply don't have the money. Team Brandie is a group of friends trying to save another friend's life. We're doing everything we can think of but we can't do it alone. We need your help! If there is a doctor out there somewhere that can make some sense of Brandie's case, we have to get her there. Your donation could be the difference in getting her to the specialists who could save her life. With Love and Hope, Team Brandie  
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