A fundraiser that launched earlier this year to help support a White Rock mother who is battling brain cancer has raised just over $70,000 so far, but organizers say the financial burden of treatments continues.
The costs to Erin Ocampo’s family have been “insurmountable,” Angela Hiebert writes in a Dec. 14 update on the gofundme page that she created in April.
“I humbly ask that if you are in a position to give, please do. The need is still there and the last thing they need to have weighing on them is finances.”
Ocampo, a photographer and interior designer who graduated from North Delta Secondary, was diagnosed with glioblastoma in the spring, after she started having difficult swallowing and speaking. A CT scan showed a spot on her brain, and the aggressive cancer was confirmed during surgery to remove some of the tumour.
In late spring, the 43-year-old began a “very aggressive” 40-day treatment of concurrent radiation and chemotherapy, steroids, anti-seizure medication and a “whole host of other medicine creating debilitating side effects.”
The rigorous schedule took a toll, however, and Ocampo spent most of her summer in bed, with many hospital visits.
While she underwent a second round of chemo, radiation was taken off the table as she’d had “her life quota” of that, Hiebert continued. Even the second round of chemo became too much.
Hiebert said support to date from those closest to Ocampo, along with prayers and meals, has helped her – along with her husband of nine years, Amir, and their three young children – push through “some very dark times.” Meal deliveries, Hiebert added, have been a “huge blessing” that the family is grateful for. Organized by Heidi Mobambola via Meal Train, 77 have signed on to help.
In an introduction to the family on that site, Mobambola shares a post Ocampo first made about her diagnosis:
“I feel like there comes a time in each of our lives where Facebook eventually gets used to share bad news instead of good. Today is unfortunately my turn. We’ve been on a three-week journey in my health that has ended in a diagnosis of brain cancer. Our family has been overwhelmed by the support from friends, co-workers, neighbours and family. The outpouring of love has been gut-wrenchingly beautiful and we are so, SO grateful. There are still lots of unknowns and so many questions but we are advocating for me to be seen by the right people and we hope and pray that happens soon. I’m told I’m a fighter, so I’ll be here fighting as best I can to stay here with my beautiful family. So, with a big lump in my throat, tears in my eyes and a bit of a broken heart, I say thank you to everyone for ALL the love!”
Ocampo is currently in the middle of a three-month stretch of monthly chemotherapy treatments – the pill, taken at home, must be handled with gloves, Hiebert noted – after which a scan will be done to determine next steps.
While her exact prognosis is unclear, Hiebert said statistics show the average survival length is 12 to 18 months; 25 per cent of patients survive more than one year, and five per cent survive for more than five years.
“Our hope and prayer is that she is in the small per cent,” Hiebert told Peace Arch News Friday (Dec. 17).
Hiebert initially started the fundraiser to “alleviate (the family’s) worries in any way we can,” from helping cover the cost of meals and hiring a house cleaner, to funding alternative therapies.
In renewing her appeal for donations this month, Hiebert notes that Amir’s health coverage has been maxed out, so everything now is out-of-pocket.
Details of some of the medical costs are shared in the latest gofundme update, and include hyperthermic therapy, to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy ($200-plus, three times per month); IV therapy, to reduce inflammation (approximately $140, three times per month); medical CBD and THC oils to aid with sleep, pain and nausea; keto food items to starve the cancer cells of sugar; and more.
To donate, visit gofundme.com/f/supporting-the-ocampos
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