Dawn's Story

My story starts in 1997 when my first son, Trevor was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age 3.  He seemed to be a very healthy little boy until I noticed some bruises on his shins and arms.  I started finding more and more bruises, which for a new mother can be disturbing.  I addressed this with the daycare he was in and they stated they noticed some odd little things with him, too.  Well, I did not feel at all comfortable about what I was seeing and decided to take him to the doctor.  Everyone said I was being a paranoid mother.  A short time into the doctor appointment and I no longer looked paranoid.  We were sent to UVA hospital in Charlottesville immediately. Trevor underwent numerous blood transfusions and was soon diagnosed with ALL,  Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. 
He underwent two and a half years of treatments.  He is here today and 20 years old.
Fast forward 13 years.  New husband, another little boy.  Arthur was 6 years old and was at the end of his first year of school (kindergarten).  He was having issues with vomiting in the middle of the night.  He would all of a sudden spike a fever and have projectile vomiting.  The next day, he would seem fine.  This happened on and off for a while. Took him to the doctor and they said he had the latest "junk" going around.  Nothing to be concerned about.  A few months later, when checking Arthur for ticks (we lived in the woods), I noticed one testicle seemed very large and very hard.  I started googling what it could be and found something called strangled testicle syndrome.  This seemed to me to be what it was.  I took him into the doctor and well, imagine my surprise and anguish when his words were, "when you see a mass the size of that, you automatically think of the "c" word".  He had no idea what I had just went thru with my other son.
We were immediately sent for ultrasounds and then to UVA again, for surgery to remove the mass which soon was diagnosed as Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma, ERMS.  Really!!!  Who would ever have thought cancer would strike BOTH of my sons!!!  Unbelievable.
Well, Arthur went thru 6 months of treatments and four years of scans.  He has just finished his last scan (we hope).  They have now found his bladder is abnormally large and are checking this out to see what is going on there.
On top of this, let's throw one more wrench in the spokes.
I have now been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, grade 3.
Yes.  Cancer seems to be attracted to our small family.  There is a good possibility that we have a genetic
mutation that predisposes our family to these genetically related cancers.  I am set up to begin genetic testing in February.
I am a single mother, with no health insurance at this time and live as many do, from paycheck to paycheck.  If there ever was a silver lining to a crappy story, I have one for you.
My very good friend was watching a documentary on HBO one night recently (about the time I was diagnosed) about a young lady who fought breast cancer and who wanted so very much to help other women, less fortunate than herself go through the battle.  This woman was fortunate to have the income needed to fight the disease and have the best care.  She also had lost a good friend along the way to the disease because she could not attain the care she needed from the very beginning due to lack of insurance and money.
My friend was able to contact and speak to this woman in regards to my situation.  Since then, this beautiful woman,  Ms. Dee Dee Ricks, has become a huge light in my life at this moment.  She has offered to help me attain health insurance and help me with my copays and out of pockets that I cannot afford myself.  I could not have done this without her and did not know how I would have handled trying to pay for reconstruction later.  They will not reconstruct your breasts without insurance or money because it is cosmetic.  It is very sad to see how people with no insurance and no means can be treated.  There should be more people like Dee Dee Ricks.
Her foundation, a 501(c)3, the Ricks Oberoi Foundation is making it possible for me to get the care I need.  My hope is that others will find the help they also need in time.


Dawn and her two sons Trevor and Arthur

Dawn, Trevor and Arthur

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