Alyssa Lewis, 29, of Mechanicville, was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant.
It has been a harrowing ordeal for Alyssa and her husband, Dustin, compounded by the fact that cancer treatments are expensive. They have been unsure how to make it through. Now, the community has stepped up to help.
In just two weeks, they have raised $10,333 through a heartfelt GoFundMe campaign, surpassing their $10,000 goal.
When the Unthinkable Happens
During her first trimester, Alyssa experienced slight pain and found a lump in her breast. Convinced it was harmless, she tried not to worry.
Except for awful nausea, Alyssa’s pregnancy went relatively smoothly, at first. As her breasts swelled, pain increased. She convinced herself these were normal changes until, at 37 weeks pregnant, she finally mentioned the lump to her obstetrician. The biopsy confirmed it was cancerous.
“I’m young, generally healthy, with no breast cancer history… how could this have happened?” Alyssa wondered.
To begin the cancer treatments as soon as possible, Alyssa was scheduled for an induction the day before her due date. There were complications. After 10 hours of labor, and with the baby’s heart-rate dropping, a C-Section was performed. On May 4th, a healthy baby girl, Harlow, 6lbs 5 oz, 19-inches, was born.
Several weeks later, imaging detected Alyssa also has a cancerous lymph node. The hormones surging through Alyssa’s body during pregnancy fed the aggressive, fast-growing Stage 2 tumor.
“The biggest thing I’m afraid of is, unfortunately, I could be losing my life, my daughter could be losing her mother, and my husband could be losing his wife,” said Alyssa.
Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow
Today, Alyssa’s chemotherapy treatments have begun. Surgery will follow and with it, radiation, and long-term hormone therapy medications.
Unsure of how much the out-of-pocket costs for all this will amount to, Alyssa and Dustin know they are substantial. They are struggling to keep up financially. Also, Alyssa does not have life insurance.
In addition to the typical expenses of all new parents, Harlow must be fed exclusively with formula (costs only partially covered by WIC assistance). The couple, married since 2018, also care for three cats; Mittens, Scarlet, and Xena. Medical copays and the cost of transportation for treatments are adding up.
On June 13, they launched a GoFundMe campaign. In less than three days, they reached 50% of their $10,000 goal. Within the week, they received nearly $7,500 in donations.
“We live a private life, have a small circle of friends, and aren’t on social media. That so many people would help - words can’t express what I’m feeling,” said Alyssa, adding, “It’s definitely given me a new sense of strength I didn’t have before. In the beginning, it was hard to feel that way.”
Immeasurably grateful, this support has pushed Alyssa into a place of empowerment, allowing her the grace to advocate for young breast cancer patients like herself.
“Seeing the outpouring of support from friends, family, everyone (even strangers!) really has pushed me forward. I have a new sense of wanting to make a difference for others in my condition.”
Alyssa has joined a cancer support group, is participating in a clinical study to test the current standard of care (saving future patients from the awful side-effects of ineffective treatments) and is advocating for more rigorous cancer prevention measures for pregnant women.
To read more of Alyssa Lewis’ story and contribute, visit gofund.me/77515d0c.
If you would prefer to send a gift, visit amazon.com/registries/gl/guest-view/UK5AIRU4Z1PA