My son Gage Duzan is currently a neurosurgical patient, who will soon undergo a very serious surgery to remove a tumor from his spinal cord.
Our family will very soon be in need of your help.
I have began a fundraiser called #feesfund. This fund not only aides in covering my family's medical expenses, but for a $10 donation I will paint a 4x4 tile to be donated to a local cancer patient. I am able to paint these encouraging tiles quickly in the bits of time when my health allows. I then take them to cancer centers in my area and pray with the patients after presenting them with their tile. I hope this part of my fundraiser continues to grow even after we are no longer in need of it financially. For now, any monies made after the cost of supplies and gas to the facilities will go towards my family's medical expenses. We will need to cover past and current medical bills as well as medications until my disability is approved. We also anticipate high costs related to Gage's surgery and recovery. Once we meet the financial goals, I will continue doing fundraising for the cancer center tiles and hope to one day be sending them out to centers all over the country.
I would like to take a moment to explain our family situation. About a year ago, when Gage was attending LakeLand College, he began to experience a significant amount of back pain. He began chiropractic care, which sustained his pain at times, but its effects were soon lost. We then did an x-ray, to see if there was a reason for this continued pain at such a young age and we saw what looked to be a possible extra vertebrae in his lower back. The chiropractor ordered an MRI, but insurance denied the request. So, on top of months of chiropractic costs, we then had to follow protocol and send Gage through 6 weeks of physical therapy. Once this proved unhelpful, insurance finally paid for an MRI. This MRI showed a 4.5cm mass at the base of his spinal cord. We are unsure as to whether or not it is cancerous, however the doctors feel that it is not, due to the lack of "lighting up" with contrast on the MRI. We pray this is an accurate notion.
We cannot allow this tumor to grow, as it will begin to affect Gage very quickly. It would start with loss of bladder and bowel control, followed by a slow loss of feeling in his limbs, and eventually he would become paralyzed. So we must do surgery to remove the mass. Unfortunately, this surgery has the same risks as leaving the tumor, but the chances of issues are much smaller. It is still a very serious and risky surgery. The neurosurgeon will be scheduling the whole day to work on Gage, and only Gage, so he will have his full attention. The surgery will last around 4 hours followed by several days in the hospital. There is a chance that Gage may temporarily lose certain functions, such as bladder and sensation, but this should only be temporary. Gage will then return home where his large and loving circle of family and friends will care for him here in my home.
My own battles have all been with stable IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma. My final cure came in 2006 when I received an unrelated donor stem cell transplant (i.e. bone marrow transplant). My post-transplant journey has been as unique as my cancer stories, as I have struggled with Chronic Graft Versus Host Disease for the past 12 years. Essentially, my body is unable to fully graft with my donor cells. This can be a very life threatening condition and I have fought against it year after year, until I was recently unable to continue working because of its severity.
Being a transplant patient means a suppressed immune system, endless amounts of medication, ongoing experimental treatments, continuous tests and hospital stays and near daily trips to the pharmacy for medication. Many of my medications have very harmful side affects; this paired with increasing medical complications has left me to live in pain from muscle degeneration that requires several hundred dollars a month for pain management. Additional rejection related illnesses include debilitating fatigue, skin cancer, osteoporosis, frequent infections, painful rashes, insomnia, and a constant breaking down of my digestive system which affects my nutrition absorption and sometimes leads to hospitalization.
Over the last 2 years, we have tried numerous new treatments, all of which have failed. These treatments have included several $10,000 per month medications, a year of photopheresis treatments and several lengthy hospital stays... all of which amounted to just over $600,000 in hospital bills. With the help of insurance coverage, the selling of our home and car, and the grace of God, we have thus far been able to stay just ahead of these bills.
I was recently convinced that the viscous cycle of working full time to pay the medical bills was only making me more sick, essentially creating more medical bills. So in December I stopped working and put this in God's hands. We are currently living off less than $2,000 a month during the filing of my disability claim - my monthly medical expenses take up over half of this income and soon we will have Gage's expenses as well. I was around his age when I was first diagnosed and soon after I had a medical bankruptcy on my record. I will not let this happen to my son, so please, help us cover these expenses so he can get the help he needs and not be stuck with any financial ramifications.
As a family, we currently have no consumer debt and have moved to a much smaller and older home with a low mortgage, however many of our medical accounts have now been sent to collections and we are unable to receive much of a discount from the hospitals - some not at all. We are no longer able to make the payments on these debts and there have been times I have had to delay picking up medications or stop them altogether due to their financial burden. I do not want such a thing to happen to Gage during his recovery. I want him to have the very best care possible without a second thought to the cost.
So, I am asking for your help. I believe with all my heart that God will help us to overcome what appears to be a hopeless and endlessly impossible financial situation. I also believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel for my family. One day we will look back at this time and know that it was God and the support and prayers of all of you that got us through it.Please consider sponsoring a tile or making a donation.