Help Ann Beat Cancer!

For: Ann Ness
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Organizer: Marilyn Ness
Help Ann Beat Cancer! (Ann Ness)
of $700,000 goal
5% Complete
Raised by 244 donors

The Story

FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2017


Hi to everyone who has donated to the fundraiser and to those trying to do so now,

First off, thank you all for your amazing support, I am so very grateful. It’s been overwhelming and emotional to see the outpouring of love I have been given by so many.

This update is a bit of a different one, as my circumstances have changed. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been feeling quite ill and have been in and out of hospital. Which leads me to this good news/bad news update. The bad news is that the cancer has spread and is now in my bone marrow, which was confirmed with a biopsy this week. The good news is that having disease in my marrow has provided my doctors an opportunity to widen the search for more treatment options where as no disease in my marrow meant the trial in Seattle was my last hope.

Today, I was told by my doctors that they were able to secure me a spot in a funded CART Cell trial in Bethesda, Maryland at the National Institute of Health (NIH). This trial is the same type of treatment as the trial in Seattle but I will not have to be responsible for the treatment costs. Because of this, I will be able to go to Bethesda to start treatment right away and I have a tentative start date of April 10th. There will still be costs incurred by me and my family while I am at the NIH for the 6-8 weeks long treatment and I intend to use the money raised to date to fund the expenses for the NIH trial.

I am putting an indefinite hold on the fundraiser for two reasons. One, the money raised so far should cover most of my expenses and there are a couple of fundraisers already started by friends, which will also contribute to my costs. Two, as I've learned time and time again, nothing with cancer is certain. If the treatment in Maryland is not successful in curing the cancer, there is the possibility that I will need to restart the fundraising to be able to do the treatment in Seattle. I am very optimistic that NIH trial is a viable option for me and I look at it as a blessing in disguise in my time of need. The other silver lining is Seattle is no longer a last hope but a Plan B.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to send an email to me at [email protected]

Thank you again for all your support, I am truly grateful.

With Continued Love and Gratitude,



Dear family, friends and supporters,

In April 2016 my 28-year-old niece Ann was diagnosed for the fifth time in 17 years with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).  Since the age of 11 she has had chemotherapy, radiation, a matched-unrelated bone marrow transplant and a mastectomy to treat the cancer.

She has been told by her oncologist in Vancouver that they have exhausted all treatment options available in Canada. She is in urgent need of treatment and has been looking for new treatment options in the US.

The good news is that Ann is eligible for a Phase I/II Car T-cell clinical trial currently running at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). The Car T-cell treatment is a new immunotherapy that has had promising results in treating patients with recurring ALL.

Canadian medical coverage does not extend to clinical trials in the Phase I/II process. This is Ann’s VERY LAST option and the cost of treatment is between $650,000 - $700,000 CAD.

All of us who love Ann know her to be an amazing person.  She has lived with her illness with supreme dignity and courage.  She never complains!  A donation to help her get to Seattle in the next few months could not go to a better cause. Please consider giving what you can to Help Ann Beat Cancer and please let others know about her situation!

With gratitude,

Marilyn Ness (Ann’s Aunt)


With your donation to Ann, the secondary contribution to YouCaring is optional, you can edit the amount to $0.

Cheque Donations:

Please make any cheques out to Ann Ness and mail to

PO BOX 20088

Vancouver BC V5Z 0C1

Her Story

Ann, our beloved daughter, sister, cousin, niece and friend is up against cancer for the FIFTH time and she needs your help! In the spring of 2016, Ann received devastating news. The leukemia she has fearlessly tried to defy returned once again. She has exhausted all viable treatment options available to her in Canada and is now in urgent need of CART cell treatment available in the US

A Lifetime Roller Coaster

At the young age of 11 years old, Ann was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and in the past 17 years, she has gone through more than most people will go through in a lifetime. Ann has survived:

  • countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation,
  • a bone marrow transplant at age 15,
  • major hip surgery at age 19,
  • and a mastectomy at age 26.

By the time Ann graduated from Brocklehurst Secondary School, in Kamloops BC, she had already overcome cancer twice in her young life. Upon graduation, she was honoured with the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award that recognized her academic, athletic and humanitarian achievements in the face of adversity.

Pay It Forward

Throughout her teen years, Ann became involved with many cancer charities that support youth with cancer. Through her involvement with these charities she was encouraged to give back and donate her time to many health-related organizations. One of the organizations close to her heart is the Canadian Cancer Society and its children's recreational program Camp Goodtimes. It has been through this program that Ann has provided support to youth living with cancer for many years in her young adult life.

A Side Step

At the start of her university studies, Ann celebrated 5 years in remission, only to have it return for a third time. While at Simon Fraser University (SFU), she was diagnosed with leukemia in her right breast. Ann courageously conquered this challenge and charged forward in her education. After completing treatment in 2010, it took no time for Ann to get motivated to get back to her studies and volunteer work. Inspired by her recent treatments to pursue a career in the health field, she eagerly returned to SFU and obtained a Bachelor of Sciences in Health Sciences in 2012.

Living Life to the Fullest

With an ambition to always try new things, Ann worked as a lifeguard after university to save up money to go travel abroad before continuing further education. In the fall of 2013, Ann travelled on her own to Western Australia where she lived on a farm in the small coastal town of Margaret River while working 2 jobs: on a vineyard and in a deli.

Feeling some semblance of a normal life, Ann was completely devastated in early 2014 when she discovered a mass in her breast again. Being on the other side of the world, Ann was faced with the reality of having to leave behind friends and family so she could return to Canada to receive cancer treatment for the fourth time. At this point, her medical team in Vancouver was unsure what treatment options would succeed in finding a cure for her. After more chemotherapy and a mastectomy to her right breast, Ann was back to work and school.

Driven to Help Others

With a large desire to continue to work in the cancer community, Ann became an assistant at the Canadian Cancer Society’s Jean C. Barber Lodge in Vancouver.  There she assisted out of town cancer patients needing somewhere to stay throughout their treatments. During her medical treatments as a teenager, Ann stayed at the Ronald McDonald House and used that experience to empathise with the lodge guests. She knew what it was like to be away from the ones you love during treatment and she wanted to make the guests feel comforted while staying at the lodge.

This work fuelled Ann to go back to school and complete her prerequisites for Occupational Therapy. On completion of her courses in spring 2016, Ann was accepted to the Masters of Occupational Therapy Program at Dalhousie University. Sadly, this good news was short-lived as she would find out the cancer had returned only weeks later.

Most Recent Diagnosis

In April 2016, after experiencing a bad cold, Ann noticed some swollen lymph nodes that wouldn't go away. Concerned as to what these symptoms could mean, she visited her oncologist and was told the worse news possible. The cancer was back and this time there were no viable treatment options left for her in Canada. Her doctors explained that her best treatment option was to participate in a clinical trial in the US for a new immunotherapy called CART-Cell therapy. The therapies are brand new but have had exceptional results in treating patients with recurring leukemia.

A New Hope and How You Can Help

In June 2016, Ann was all set to participate in a funded CART-Cell clinical trial on the east coast but unfortunately the trial closed before she had a chance to go. All she could do was wait and hope for another spot in a trial to open. Over the summer and fall of 2016, Ann was given monoclonal antibody, chemotherapy and radiation treatments to keep the cancer at bay but none of these treatments have had the curative effects that she needs.

In March 2017, Ann was accepted into the CART-Cell clinical trial at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, WA. The treatment has a cost of between $650,000 and $700,000 CAD and this experimental treatment is not covered by the Canadian Medical Services Plan. She will need to come up with the funds for the hospitalization, diagnostic testing and related medical treatment fees.

This is Ann’s ONLY option and she isn’t giving up! Help Ann Beat Cancer by sharing her story and donating. Your donation, big or small, will make a huge difference and can help Ann get the treatment she needs to beat cancer once and for all!

Please help us by donating and sharing her story.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts in advance!

With Love and Gratitude,

The Ness Family

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on June 17, 2017


Posted on June 17, 2017


It has been 6 weeks since I last posted an update and a lot has happened since then. The good news is the treatment seems to be working but I have had a rough go with it and have experienced a lot of complications. Thank you to everyone who has sent well wishes via emails, texts and social media messages. I hope I have not worried anyone with my lack of updates and responses to messages but this treatment has taken a lot out of me and I have only just recently started to feel like doing anything besides sleep. With this update, I hope to bring everyone up to speed.

My last update from May 5th I had talked about my T-cell harvest and on May 6th I was admitted into hospital to start the chemo I needed before my CAR T-cell infusion. The CAR T-cells were successfully manufactured and on May 10th I had the infusion. It was very anticlimactic and I was told by my doctors I should not have any adverse effects for at least 5 days. That was not the case. The night of the infusion I spiked a fever. The fever was expected but not so quickly. Fevers, chills and high blood pressure are a result of Cytokine Release Syndrome which is a common complication of the CAR T-cell treatment. I ended up having all those symptoms along with fluid in my lungs and problems with my blood clotting. 

The severity of my symptoms got to the point where I had to be moved from the oncology ward to the ICU. A lot of it was a feverish dream and I do not remember a whole lot. I just remember I had a lot of nose bleeds and was on oxygen the whole time. I spent my birthday in the ICU and had an amazing nurse who forced me out of bed that day to go check out the therapy dogs that visit the hospital. I spent a week in the ICU and then was moved to a ward where I still was closely monitored. Throughout this process my medical team was very much on top of it. They would check in on me at least twice a day and had other specialists check on me if needed. Because my doctors were not showing signs of major concern and because I was so out of it, I never felt too worried about my situation but physically I felt destroyed.

Last week I had a bone marrow biopsy and a PET Scan to see if the treatment is doing what it is supposed to. The biopsy showed that a large number of the CAR T-cells did take. In my peripheral blood and my bone marrow, I had no signs of leukemia cells and the CAR T-cells persisted. This has not been the case for all patients in this study so to have the CAR T-cells still present 4 weeks later is a good indicator the treatment is working. It is also a sign there may be undetectable cancer but the hope would be that a moderate number of CAR T-cells will persist and destroy any remaining cancer cells.

The unique problem I have had is the extramedullary masses of leukemia that have been recurring. The PET Scan showed significant shrinkage of the masses in my parotid gland by my right ear and the lacrimal gland by my right eye. My doctors told me not to be too concerned that there are masses still present on the scan as it could just be residual inflammation from the CAR T-cells targeting the malignancies but they will be repeating the scan in a month or two.

I am currently back on the oncology ward I started on May 6th and am no longer in need of around the clock monitoring. I have been in the hospital for 6 weeks now and I am starting to go stir crazy but there is an end in sight. The fluid in my lungs is gone and the medications that have been controlling my blood pressure are being reduced almost every day. My main issue is the blood clotting and I am still requiring platelet transfusions. I did however get a pass to go to the Children’s Inn today and spent a few hours there. I hope to be discharged from the hospital early next week and I imagine I will need to stay here at the as an out patient for some period before I can finally go home.

It has been a long tough road so far and even though I have not acknowledged it for some time I am grateful for everyone’s support. A huge shout out to my mom who has been with me through all of this and thanks to my friends and family managing things for me back home too. Now that I am starting to get back on my feet and will hopefully be out of the hospital soon, I will have more time and energy to respond to the well wishes sent my way. As always you can email me at [email protected].

With Continued Love and Gratitude,


Posted on May 5, 2017


Posted on May 5, 2017


Here is my latest update as I approach the final countdown towards my planned infusion of the modified T-cells (CAR T-cells) on Wednesday. The T-cells I had harvested two weeks ago went into the lab to be modified on Monday and I hope to find out this Monday whether they are being successfully engineered into the CAR T-cells. I am glad that my mom and I have stayed at the NIH during this time as I have needed more medical attention than I initially expected.

I have now been at the NIH for over three weeks but it feels like it has been a lot longer. The waiting process is always the hardest part. I have not been feeling well over the past week as I spiked a fever and needed to be admitted for a couple nights to receive IV antibiotics. Also, the chemo I was given two weeks ago caused my blood counts to decrease and I have needed several blood transfusions. If you are willing and able, please consider donating blood as I know first-hand the difference it can make.

Yesterday, I had another bone marrow biopsy. The CD 22 is the specific marker on the cancer cells that my CAR T-cells will target. The first week I was here I had a bone marrow biopsy to measure the extent of the disease I had and to see how prevalent the CD 22 markers were in my blood and bone marrow.  I had 99% of the blasts (cancer cells) in my peripheral blood express the CD 22 marker but only 92% of the blasts in my marrow were positive for the marker. The doctors did not seem too concerned but I am hoping this second biopsy will show a greater percentage in my marrow.

It has not been just tests and procedures though. Last Wednesday, my mom and I had the opportunity to visit the National Mall in Washington, DC. Downtown Washington is approximately 40 minutes away from the NIH and the Children’s Inn periodically has a shuttle for the families to go travel to the monuments. We did not have a lot of time but we managed to catch a glimpse of the White House. From there we walked along the reflecting pool and checked out the Washington, World War II and Lincoln Memorials. My mom is always watching the news so I know she took pleasure in being able to see the monuments and buildings that are regularly shown on the news.

As always, I am grateful for the continued support I have gotten from everyone. I have been bad about responding to emails and texts in the past week while I have not been feeling well but my focus has been resting as much as possible. Hopefully this update can let everyone know where I am at right now. Please continue to send well wishes and once I am feeling better I will do my best to try and respond. As always you can always email me at [email protected].

With Continued Love and Gratitude,

Ann :)

Posted on April 23, 2017


Posted on April 23, 2017


I had another hectic week but things are moving along with a few hiccups that are being taken care of. In my last update, I mentioned I would have my T-cells harvested through apheresis and I had that done successfully on Tuesday. These cells will now go to a lab to be engineered to find a marker on the leukemia cells. If the T-cells are successfully engineered, I will have them reinfused into my body on May 10th. In the meantime, I had been hoping to go home but because of the amount of disease I have, the doctors feel it is best I stay here to receive some chemo before the infusion. I am sad that I will not have the chance to go home but I would rather be safe than sorry.

I had hope to post this update midweek but last week was as crazy as the week before. On Monday, I had an MRI, an ophthalmology appointment, a pre-apheresis clinic and I finally signed the dotted line agreeing to receive the CAR T-cells! It was also discovered from my blood tests that day that my platelets were low. For the apheresis, I had to have a temporary venous line put in so not being able to clot well due to a low platelet count was going to be a problem. Monday night, I ended up being admitted and received a platelet transfusion overnight so that I would be ready for Tuesday.

First thing Tuesday morning I had the venous line put in. I have had so many lines and trouble with lines over the years that the doctors had to put this line in through my femoral vein as opposed to putting it through a vein in my upper body. So, for most of Tuesday I awkwardly had tubes hanging out at the side of my groin. The line insertion went well though and right after that I was taken to the apheresis clinic to start the T-cell harvest. The whole process took nearly five hours. The line I had was a double lumen so that my whole blood was extracted from my body and travelled through one lumen to a centrifuge where it was separated into the plasma, red blood cells and lymphocytes (T-cells). The lymphocytes went into a bag and the plasma and red blood cells were reinfused to my body through the second lumen. The process was not painful at all, essentially I just sat in a hospital bed the whole time.

As I mentioned earlier, my initial plan had been to come home after the cell harvest if I was feeling okay and then come back down early May with my mom when the CAR T-cells are ready, but because of the change in plan my mom flew down on Friday. I had chemo on Wednesday and have already started feeling the effects of the treatment so having her here now as my support has been amazing. I had been so busy the week before that I didn’t have time to miss anyone but when she arrived I was so grateful to have a loved one by my side. I realize I am sometimes too independent for my own good, but I will always want my mom!

I have two more weeks before anything major happens again. In that time, I need to stay out of trouble and lay low. I will be monitored closely by my medical team and I plan to rest as much as possible. I am grateful for the emails and best wishes I have received and please do not hesitate to send an email to me at [email protected] and I will do my best to get back to you if I am feeling okay.

With Continued Love and Gratitude,

Ann :)

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