The family and friends of Judith Holst are asking for your help to raise the needed money to beat blood cancer. Thank you for your support.
I’d like to introduce you to my big sister Judith (I call her Honey). She’s beautiful, isn’t she? I love her so much. . .even though she did tattle on me whenever I didn’t do my homework, whenever I went fishing with my shirt off, whenever. . . you name it. When I think back on my childhood though, I most remember when we were kids and shared a room. She was afraid of the dark. On one of my Tom Sawyer days, I found an old machete in the swamp and hid it under my pillow promising her that I would protect her from the bogey man. She must have believed in me because she fell asleep. Truth is – there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my big sister. And if I could do this for her all by myself I would, but I can’t – I . . . we . . . need your help.
In February 2011 my sister Judith was diagnosed with Waldenstrom, a non-Hodgkin lymphoma. What’s so crazy is that Judith has always been the health conscious one in the family. She bought the freshest food possible from co-ops and made her two children’s baby food from scratch; she exercised regularly and rarely over-indulged. Judith lived with vibrant health. But when she started losing her energy and losing weight she didn’t have to lose, we knew something was wrong.
Waldenstrom is a blood cancer and in the form that Judith has, proteins in her blood build up and thicken her blood. Thick blood causes strokes, heart attacks, blindness and ultimately premature death.
After the diagnosis Judith’s blood proteins thickened her blood much faster than the doctors expected. So from October 2011 through March 2012 Judith went through chemo to put the cancer in remission. For most people diagnosed with Waldenstrom a round of chemo will put them in remission for about five years. Well, Judith’s body didn’t tolerate the chemo very well at all and it made her very sick. The doctor’s had to adjust the normal protocol and give her smaller doses of chemo over a longer period of time. We were hopeful that it had worked and that the cancer had gone into remission, but when the summer came, her three month blood tests showed that protein levels in her blood were rising again.
Now Judith is facing the biggest challenge in her life and while I can’t protect her with that old machete I can do everything possible to help secure the resources that will enable her to win her vibrant health back.
Judith is doing all she can with her limited resources. She’s tweaked her diet so that she is getting the most nutritionally beneficial foods she can afford and she continues to exercise. And more than likely if this cancer challenge had come earlier in her life she wouldn’t need additional financial support now, but a lot has happened these last few years in addition to the cancer.
After the economy crashed in 2008 Judith was laid off and then she and her husband had to declare bankruptcy. She couldn’t get a job until a temporary position opened up in 2010. She took the temporary position which turned permanent in June of 2011, but they were too far behind in their mortgage to catch up. So the week before Christmas 2011, in the middle of debilitating chemo treatments, my sister and her husband moved out of their home and into a generous friend’s camper. It was tough – as you can imagine – but they were together and very grateful to have a roof over their heads. Luckily, both of her children were in college and went back to their dorms after the Christmas break. As happens in some people’s marriages the strain of their situation with no relief for the financial pressures was too much and my sister’s marriage ended after 30 years, right after her chemo finished.
After Judith’s husband left in April 2012, there was a fire in the camper and she was lucky to be able to stay with another girlfriend temporarily. And in October 2012 Judith was able to rent a nice basement apartment where she lives today. My big sister is working hard to rebuild her life, but with each three month blood test her protein levels go up. But we have hope.
One of the many things I admire about my big sister is her internal strength – her indomitable spirit that has always kept her moving forward.
We believe Judith can make a full recovery if she receives the specialized treatment she needs from the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, IL. After talking to the Block Center we’ve estimated that Judith will need $51,000 over the next two years. And we believe that with that treatment Judith will see her children graduate from college, get married and start their own families. We believe that with that treatment Judith will hold a grandchild or two or three in her arms and attend their kindergarten, elementary school, high school and college graduations. Judith keeps the faith and does everything possible to stay healthy, but right now it’s not enough. So with all my heart and soul I am asking that you do what you can to help her rediscover the vibrant health she once knew. Whether your support comes financially or with a hug or both, we thank you for joining us and letting Judith know how much you care and are in her corner rooting her on.
Thank you for taking the time to read her story.
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