Her very unexpected Journey
After a Doctor’s visit for abdominal pain in early September, Sonita was referred to Baptist Health. After an entire day of tests and scans, the prognosis went from a suspected gallbladder infection and normal tumor markers and blood work (except that pesky CA 125 blood marker that remained elevated) to a CT scan, and the Oncologist closing the door behind him in a dingy ER room, at 6pm, to sit down and say,
“It’s not good news.”
Sonita was then diagnosed with Stage 3C Carcinomatosis.
At the time they couldn’t see her ovaries, but confirmed cancer on her liver. The next day exploratory laparoscopic surgery showed tumors on her ovaries and fallopian tubes, her peritoneum, and her liver. She was immediately scheduled to undergo a ‘radical debulking’ surgery on Monday, September 9th.
What was supposed to be a 4.5hr surgery turned into an 8.5 hr surgery that finished at 11.30pm. The gynecological oncologist performed the hysterectomy and peeled away the peritoneum from all the organs. A thoracic surgeon was called in to work on the diaphragm and liver. An intestinal oncologist was called in to advise. The process was painfully slow as they were peeling mm by mm so as not to damage any organs, yet get all the tumors.
Sonita was discharged on Wednesday, and hoped to travel home as soon as possible. However, on Sunday she was rushed to the ER at 1:30am with hot and cold chills, severe nausea, diarrhea and dry heaving constantly. Another CT scan showed an abscess on her rectal wall and a severe bacterial infection. On Tuesday she underwent a procedure to have a drain inserted to drain the tumor and started a course of very strong antibiotics. She was not able to hold any food down until Thursday and lost 11lbs in weight. In order to get Sonita discharged, she needed to hold down oral antibiotics, but her reaction to the medication was so severe, she had to stay in hospital to be given IV antibiotics.
Then the thing that is not supposed to happen, happened. Her medical insurance had reached its annual cap. Just like that. Sonita was discharged. Let that sink in.
She had no choice but to continue her IV antibiotics and had to scramble to figure out how to do that. She then had to pay US$980 out of pocket for the cost of the antibiotics that her husband Bill had to administer through the chemo port in her chest, while at their AirBnb.
She finally flew back to Cayman on October 1st and now has 6 cycles of chemo in Cayman and a half-way CT scan at Baptist in December to pay for, out of pocket as her insurance company will not pay for it.
At this stage we also expect outstanding medical bills and co-pays to add up to a significant amount.
As you all know, Sonita and her husband are both self-employed, and they have a 9 year old son, Jasper. Sonita will not be able to work at her normal speed while undergoing treatments and her husband will need to take care of her post treatments. Being told you have stage 3 cancer is hard enough; being discharged from hospital because your insurance is capped, horrendous. Having to shop around for the most affordable Chemo treatment as you have to pay completely out of pocket is bordering on the ridiculous.
And what does Sonita do? Decide - and I mean really decide - she's going to be fine.
What can you do?
Cancer isn't a new word. We all know someone who has been affected to various levels. It sucks. It really does. But you never expect it to be you. And when it is, your feet don't touch the floor through diagnosis, quasi-understanding, making hard choices, treatment that often seems worse than the disease, being strong, being weak, being vulnerable, being hopeful, and having to asking for help.
We are starting this page, with Sonita's permission, for a simple reason. We feel everyone deserves the opportunity to navigate their cancer journey without having to worry about where the money for upcoming chemo, co-pays, medication, hospital bills, hotel stays, mortgage payments and school fees should come from. Because we understand and know the love and generosity of her friends, the Cayman community and our wider networks. Because we, like you, love this woman more than she will ever know and we want to give her the gift of one less thing to worry about, and to make this journey just a lot less shit.
We know so many of you have already been asking how to help, so if you can, PLEASE donate to this page. Sonita and her husband Bill will have the sole access to withdraw funds, to use as they need it for the remainder of this journey. Any remaining funds will be donated to the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.
Last but not least, we ask that you refer any property maintenance work/handyman work to her husband’s business, Cayman Property Maintenance (327 0582 or firstname.lastname@example.org). There is a long year ahead for this family of 3, and Bill will need to work like a mad man.
Much love and a universe of thanks to you all.
“A gesture can reach a wound that
only compassion can heal.”
Get In Touch
Have questions for Sonita or her warriors? Get in touch!