We are desperately looking for funding for further alternative chemo therapy for Engela Richards, aged 38. Diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma Stage 4. This metastasis as also spread to her brain. In South Africa currently Engela has tried all traditional and conventional immune therapy for her cancer type, as this is the only chemo Metastatic Melanoma responds to. With this said this treatments as weakened her immune system, where in her case a strong immune system is key to fight the cancer cell growth. No further traditional / conventional treatment options is available. After doing a lot of research and reaching out to CANSA SA I was contacted by Dr. Pretorius which suggested we try alternative treatment options, firstly fixing her immune system, which is key and vital to stop the cancer from continual growth. Due to this being alternative, no medical aid in SA will fund for this.
I registered a Go Get Funding campaign to try and raise funding required of R307 200.(22077.77 USD) Via the campaign we have managed to raise around R5400.00 (388.09 USD) We have also had fundraiser where we attended a local farmers market over December, selling some goods that was sponsored by staff at AVBOB Pretoria and my sister. At the market we managed to raise around R1600.00 (114.99USD) cash. Donations from family and friends of around R7550.00 (542.60USD) with totals to R14 750.00 (1060.05 USD) raised offline.. We are still a long way away from raising the full amount to start her treatment plan.
I am writing you again to aid us in raising funds to her. It is not going well, and as per recent conversations with her oncologist it is imperative that we start with the treatment plan soonest. As her condition is worsening.
First and foremost we require R36 000.00 for a much needed blood test to be completed at the Centre for Advance medication – CANSA SA in 75 Lyttleton Drive, Clubview, Centurion. This blood test will be sent overseas to have the blood analyzed and tested against the various virotherapies available. This will determine which treatment will be the best for her type of cancer. Once this is done, we require a further R40000.00 (2874.71 USD) to start her on immune therapy to boots her immune system that has been weakened due to previous chemo therapies. Once this is done we need to start with the virotherapy and would require additional funding of R 231 200.00 (16615.82 USD) which will be administered over 12 weeks. Engela has been fighting the good fight, but without treatment she does not really have a fighting chance. As much as she is willing to keep fighting.
Engela has been diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma in 2011, when a mole was removed from her left thigh. Further resection was done and all cancer was removed. In 2013 the cancer was picked up again in the left thigh, further resection was done on the left thigh and as a precaution the lymph nodes in the left groin. As precaution the oncologist advised that she start a treatment of interferon, this was quite strenuous on her body and health and she could not complete the course. In 2016 the melanoma spread from point of origin to other organs, including the lungs, liver and left breast. A course of immune therapy Ipilimumab(R1.3 million) was administered over a period of 4 months (4 cycles) the PET scan done in August 2016 showed that the cancer was stable. In 2017 August, after routine PET scan it was picked up that there where a new nodule in the left lung, she underwent a lung operation to remove the nodule, further testing was done and the result was that this was metastatic melanoma, 3 nodules where removed but only one tested positive for metastatic melanoma. In November they also did a hysterectomy as they found growth on her right ovary. A full hysterectomy, was done, leaving the left ovary. In January 2018, after routine PET scan, they picked up that the some of the inactive metastasis was no active. Only in June did they start the first cycle of Keytruda. In June Engela started complaining of headaches, dizzy spells and weakness in the knees, a MRI revealed that she also had a metastasis in the frontal lobe of the brain, inoperable.
She underwent Gamma Knife Radiation surgery (R131 701.30 + R96000 for oncologist) (1636.52 USD) , for the tumor. This was only done once. Since June this year she has been taking strong dosages of cortisone. This has in turn caused high blood pressure and high blood glucose. For which she now takes medication. After 8 cycles of Keytruda (R98000 per cycle) the oncologist advised that the treatment was not working and ceased the treatment. Advising that in South Africa there would be no further treatment. With this said he gave her a few months to live. We spent millions over the past few years, and have been on the highest plan on my medical aid to have cover for all these treatments, of which none worked.
Since then we have been looking at alternative medication to treat her metastatic melanoma. I wrote to CANSA SA and Dr E Pretorius came back. We went to see him on the 19th November. He advised that first and foremost we need to boost her immune system, as all the chemo and medication she took has weekend her immune system. His first priority is to improve her quality of life. He would also like for us to do a blood test that will be sent overseas where they will isolate the cancer cells, and test them against different types of chemo treatments, to pinpoint which chemo treatments will work best for her. As today oncologists plays a guessing game, working with predefined “recipes” chemo therapy, where you have a 50/50 chance of it working or not. With doing this test they will identify the correct treatments based on her blood work.
Once this was identified he will then want to start her on chemo therapy, but this will be done over different intervals.
Without the alternative treatment, the outcome does not look that good.
So far as a family and from donations received from very generous friends across the world we have managed to raise offline: R14 750.00 (1060.05 UDS)
We are not there yet. We are have only managed to raise 40.97% towards our first milestone: R36000 (2578.24 USD) for the blood test overseas.
I am writing this again and creating this new campaign, hoping that there is move angels out there with a generous heart to aid us in our cause.
Would you be able to find it in your hearts to help a desperate family try and prolong the life of a sister, daughter, grandchild, aunt, friend, sole mate, partner and much loved part of our family. Help us start 2019 on a positive note and with something to look forward to.
Kindest regards, and hoping for the best.