Update on AMWF Family Needing Help: New Mother with Brain Cancer

At the close of 2015, I shared with you the tragic news of how Alison McCarthy, the wife of fellow blogger Logan Lo, suffered a seizure just five days after giving birth to their son. That seizure was caused by a serious form of brain cancer, as the family detailed on You Caring:

On November 3rd, [2015] my sister Alison gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby boy named Nathan. Five days later while recuperating at home, Alison suddenly had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital where a CT scan showed a large mass in her brain. Tragically, a biopsy has confirmed that Alison has a high grade glioblastoma brain tumor, a very aggressive form of brain cancer. Alison’s tumor is inoperable and average life expectancy is less than 18 months without treatment.

Miraculously, Alison is still here and still fighting, with the support of her family. At the request of a loyal reader, I wanted to share some updates with you on how she’s doing from Logan Lo’s blog. Here’s an update from February 20, 2017:

…I spoke to a cancer researcher last week too. He said that Alison was the longest lived butterfly glioma patient he’s ever heard of. It’s a dubious distinction, and still not enough for us.

On that note, had numerous friends and relatives ask if she can get a break: Can’t she just have a few months without swallowing 30 pills a day, without having needles stuck in her every week, without wearing a helmet of magnets 24/7, without inhaling an astringent four times a day?

The short answer is no.

Because they don’t become friends with other glioblastoma patients and caregivers. They don’t have to hear: We put David in hospice this week. Jessica had three new tumors on her last scan. Maddie passed away today.

It’s tough to hear because you hope everyone else can pull through. You hope your loved one can pull through.

But the truth is a powerful thing. The truth is, most people are dead from this damn thing within 18 months. And most of those people are people that can walk and use their arms. People that had 100% of their cancer removed. People that went to the best cancer centers in the world.

Most people start off far better than Alison and still died.

If there’s any way at all for her to survive this, it’s because she doesn’t stop until the job is done.

Here’s another update from March 15, 2017:

…We got good news last Monday that was taken away from us on Friday – the doc missed something. Our good news never ends up being good for very long.

So we’re back to trying to figure out what to do next.

Which means that I stay up at night, thinking of all our possible pasts, trying to determine the cascading consequences of my actions. Or inaction.

Logan Lo also wrote about how they’ve used the donations from You Caring:

No one’s asked me but I’m sure people are wondering: “What are you doing with all the money you’ve raised?” It’s only fair I answer it.

Originally, we weren’t sure how much our original insurance was going to pay towards Alison’s treatment. Her cancer was on the aggressive side of aggressive. The only “lucky” thing about our situation was that we were already on the platinum level of Obamacare, which essentially meant that we pay 10% and insurance pays 90%.

It has been a godsend to us. At last count, Alison’s 2016 cost of care was around $2.8 million dollars. Without the Affordable Care Act, Nathan and I would be bankrupt and Alison would be dead. It’s that simple.

But we’re not and she’s not, thanks to the ACA and everyone’s generosity.

With what’s left of our money, we’re paying for normal expenses – mortgage, food, bills – some experimental drugs, physical and occupational therapy, and exploring future options, like a potential cancer vaccine in Germany.

Mainly, though, we’re saving up to see what happens with the ACA. So we’re watching the news daily to see what unfolds.

You can follow Alison’s progress on Logan Lo’s blog, and support them at You Caring and/or by sharing their story on social media.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep this couple in my thoughts, wishing they will find new hope and courage in 2017.

AMWF Family Needs Help: New Mother with Brain Cancer

One of the greatest joys of blogging has been the opportunity to meet incredible people in the AMWF community around the world and learn their stories. A little over two years ago, I met a wonderful guy named Logan Lo, happily married to a woman named Alison McCarthy. They’re such a lovely couple that if there were a magazine for the AMWF community, they’d look perfect on the cover.

Alison and Logan LoLogan Lo went on to write two of my favorite guest posts for Speaking of China – Why limit yourself? Logan Lo shares his interracial dating story and Did You Know Hollywood’s 1st Sex Symbol Was an Asian Man? I always hoped the best for Logan and his family.

In fact, 2015 was looking like a bright and beautiful year for this couple. On November 3, 2015, Alison gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Nathan. But five days later, tragedy struck Alison – she had a seizure, caused by a very serious brain tumor. Here’s the full story from the family’s YouCaring page:

On November 3rd, my sister Alison gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby boy named Nathan. Five days later while recuperating at home, Alison suddenly had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital where a CT scan showed a large mass in her brain. Tragically, a biopsy has confirmed that Alison has a high grade glioblastoma brain tumor, a very aggressive form of brain cancer. Alison’s tumor is inoperable and average life expectancy is less than 18 months without treatment.

Because of this, the family is desperately raising funds to help save Alison and support the family during this difficult time. Here’s the explanation:

We are hoping to raise funds for Alison and her husband Logan as unfortunately their insurance is not accepted at leading cancer-centers like Memorial Sloan Kettering or for clinical trials with experimental treatments which are options we would like to have for her. Alison will also not be able to work for the foreseeable future and Logan cannot work full time as he is caring for Alison and their baby. The loss of income and added expenses will be financially devastating for this new family. Your donations will go to help pay for medical treatments, travel expenses, and childcare and are crucial in our fight to save Alison. The Brain Tumor Foundation estimates the cost of treating a brain tumor at more than $450,000 and says costs of treating a brain tumor can reach $700,000 in a lifetime.

This whole situation just breaks my heart. I know what it’s like when someone who means the world to you is fighting for their life – I’ve witnessed it with my own mother, and it is not a situation I would wish on anyone, especially a young couple with a new baby.

Logan Lo, Alison and new baby NathanIt’s been extremely hard on Logan, as you can imagine. Here’s what he first wrote about his wife’s situation:

I once said that all stories end sad; every relationship that matters will always end in tears. That’s the nature of the world. But I think the unexpected tragedies are the hardest. That’s when life knocks you to your knees and you can’t stand up again.

My wife is sick. And on top of the sickness, we have all the bonuses that come with the sickness – the fear, the uncertainty, the loss of control, etc.

Yet I hold out hope that somehow, this isn’t all of our story. That we can find a happy sequel to this news. And in the end, I want what everyone wants when they love someone – for them to stay.

Please stay with us. Please stay with me.

He also blogged about staying with his wife in the hospital, even though it meant sleeping on the floor beside her bed:

When my wife first got sick, I slept on the floor next to her hospital bed for a week. Said I did it because I didn’t want her to be alone, which was true. But equally true was that I didn’t want to be alone either.

Nurse: You can’t sleep here.
Me: (lying down) Let’s find out.

I’m sorry for the lack of updates – especially to those that have so generously donated.

On December 10th, Alison was unresponsive so we rushed her to the hospital. There, the doctors had to remove part of her skull to save her life. They said she might not survive the night. I fell to my knees.

But she survived. Then she had another surgery just a week later. That’s three brain surgeries in a month, just days after giving birth.

To say that my wife is crazy tough is like saying that New York City is a small town. She’s made of steel.

Unfortunately, she’s been in the hospital since the 10th and will be for quite a while. I’m there most days; other days, other relatives are with her.

This is not how we imagined our first Christmas and New Year’s as a family.

Still, I go to the hospital and have bread with her when she’s able. When she’s not, I just sit there. And we dream of home.

He also blogged about his first Christmas with Alison as a family, where Alison called him out of the blue, frightened because she had forgotten why she was in the hospital and what had happened to her:

Dunno how doctors regularly give bad news. Where do they find the strength to tell someone that that their lives are in grave jeopardy on the regular? Do they drink every night at their desk?

Me: …he said you might not wake up. But you did. Then he said you might be permanently damaged…
Her: (horrified)
Me: …but you’re not. And then another doctor said he had to open you again and said you might not come back, but you did. This cancer has been wanting to kill you but you just won’t let it.

Somewhere along the line, the alarms that were going off because of her rapid heartbeat, stopped ringing. And she started breathing normally again. Her voice became stronger.

Her: I can’t believe this is my life.
Me: (sighing) This woman once said, You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding. It’s a ___ hand, but you’ve been playing the hell out of them. We’re all so proud of you.

Then I took her phone and explained everything a third time – this time via a recording on her phone. And I titled it: WATCH ME!

Told her that if she woke up again and didn’t know where she was, she could watch that and wait for me. Because I would always be on my way.

I’m writing about Logan Lo and his wife Alison to ask for your support.

If you can support the family through donations (please donate through their YouCaring page), that’s wonderful.

But even if you cannot donate, you can also support them by simply sharing their story through social media. In doing so you’ll help them garner more support and ultimately more donations.

In the meantime, I’ll be keeping Logan Lo and Alison in my thoughts – and wishing them a Happy New Year that includes a full recovery for Alison.