Meet this sweet and spunky East Coaster, Karena!
|“This is a picture of me trying on my new wig & styling it for first time. Not bad looking as a red head. Surprising what a curling iron & make up can do. Brought a cancer patient back to life!” -Karena|
Karena is a 39 year old Maryland resident diagnosed with rectal cancer. She was originally diagnosed in April 2012 with stage 3 rectal cancer after a long battle with stomach issues. She passed her symptoms off as stomach bug because she was cramping and continually running to the bathroom over the winter. When her symptoms didn’t subsided after the season, she was sent home from work to go to the doctor due to blood in her stools in March 2012. Her doctor thought it could be menstrual issues and prescribed her ibuprofen. Her symptoms continued to worsen… she was given the opportunity to have a colonoscopy but her doctor didn’t want to burden her with the bill but told Karena to come back if her symptoms got worse. (Karena originally had avoided the doctor to the financial burdens… but now she is SO proactive about her health and others; she would tell anyone now – “Don’t wait! Go to the doctor!“)
Well, they got worse. She told her mom “I am dying!” She went back a few weeks later and was diagnosed on April 25 through a colonoscopy. She immediately started chemotherapy and radiation. Later, Karena had to have surgery for an ostomy. They ended up having to do TWO ostomies on her. She was so sick this first year, she got down to 95 pounds.
She had a PET scan and CT scan done this year which revealed 2 spots, one on each lung. These spots at metastasized from her original cancer. For which she had a thoracotomy on June 3rd 2014, where they removed half of her left lung. She has just restarted chemotherapy to try and shrink the other lung tumor and may have to have surgery to remove it.
Through all of this, Karena has been an incredible mom of 2 boys! Her and her husband work to care for a 12 year old and a 16 year old with Asperger’s. The boys have been helpful but also challenging in this time of her life. They are able to have outlets through karate and programming at the YMCA.
Karena still is trying to work part time but it can be very difficult for her. MMCCF was able to grant Karena and her family, one month of their mortgage, one month of electricity, and a gift card for gas to get her to her multiple appointments and chemotherapy treatments! Karena had said, “The grant will help me continue to live!”