Support Jillion Potter's Fight Against Cancer #WithYou

For: Jillion Potter
Denver, CO
Organizer: Friends and Family of Jillion
Support Jillion Potter's Fight Against Cancer #WithYou (Jillion Potter)
of $45,000 goal
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Raised by 390 donors

The Story

Support Rugby Olympian and world-class athlete Jillion Potter as she battles Synovial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, for the 2nd time. 

Longer description:Jillion Potter, USA Rugby Women's Eagle and Rio Olympian, has been re-diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.  Because of its rarity and the necessity for a clinical trial, Jillion will have to undergo treatment at MD Anderson hospital in Houston, TX.  Although she has health insurance, her out-of-pocket medical expenses and travel costs for treatment are expected to reach over $35,000.  

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on November 30, 2017

Posted on November 30, 2017

Time for an update.

This past Monday marked Jill's 50th chemotherapy infusion (not exactly the kind of anniversary anyone wants to celebrate …). For this round, she’s on a new regimen, which is a combination of a traditional chemo drug (Doxorubicin) and a new, very promising antibody drug called Olaratumab. We are hoping that after these 4 rounds, Jill will be DONE with chemo – and any other cancer treatment – for a long time.

So – why MORE chemo if they got all of the visible cancer out with the surgery? Well, even though the scans don’t show any visible cancer in Jill's body right now, the post-surgery pathology told us a couple things: (1) that the tumor itself was still 70-80% viable (meaning that although the pre-surgery chemo worked to shrink the tumor, a large portion of the remaining tumor was still capable of growing), and (2) they found some cancer in a nearby lymph node (which means that her cancer has showed a willingness to potentially spread).  Because of those things, the doctors want to do everything possible to make sure we get rid of any microscopic cancer that might be floating around post-surgery. 

So, here we are in the middle of another chemo cycle and, like most chemo, it comes with nausea, fatigue, mouth sores, and immunosuppression. And – guys – that immunosuppression is no joke. After Jill's first cycle, she ended up in the hospital for 3 nights, on strong IV antibiotics and basically on lockdown, because of an infection that started with a small cut on her hand.  (She had managed to cut her hand while woodworking and, because she had zero white blood cells to fight anything off, the infection progressed very quickly – something that can be life threatening if not addressed quickly). Unfortunately, the likelihood of this happening again is extremely high and Jill will have to be super careful when her counts are low.

We are, of course, not so excited about putting Jill through another chemotherapy regimen, or about any more random, unscheduled stays in the hospital.  BUT, if all goes as planned, Jill will be finished with treatment by mid-January and we are DEFINITELY excited about that. It's been a long year of fighting, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we are hopeful that this will be the last treatment for a very, very long time (hopefully forever!). 

We can’t tell you all how much we appreciate your support during this time.  Thank you for your friendship, positive thoughts, hugs, prayers, and love. We are so thankful for everyone's contributions, support, and encouragement. Every last bit of it is so appreciated.

Finally – one of those very generous folks - Jill's former USA Teammate, Nathalie Marchino – has somehow managed to rally rugby teams from around the world to contribute an autographed Olympic jersey to an auction. Check it out if you’re interested in a jersey! (Thanks Nath!!)

Posted on September 23, 2017


Posted on September 23, 2017

After Jill's surgery, surviving the hurricane and getting home from Houston, we had a couple weeks of uninterrupted life.
Then, 3 weeks to the day after her surgery, Jill woke up around midnight with blood gushing out of her mouth (and I'm not being dramatic - legitimately gushing).  After realizing what was happening and trying to put as much pressure in her mouth as possible, we jumped in the car and headed to Denver Health, the nearest hospital).  
Over the next week, this would  happen 3 more times - Jill waking up in the middle of the night with "spontaneous arterial bleeding" from the wound in her mouth, and each time got worse.  Those bleeds ending up requiring a total of 3 trips to the ER, 5 nights in the hospital, another surgery, a blood transfusion, a ventilator, and a lot more stitches.  We have used our collective weight in gauze and Surgicel (magic gauze-like paper that helps clotting), have ended the useful life of several bath towels (RIP soft gray towels), and cleaned more blood out of fingernails and crevices than I ever knew was possible.
Jill got released from the ICU yesterday and is still wiped out.  We are hoping and praying to all things good in the universe that these stitches hold, that the lingual artery is done playing games with us, and that ultimately there is no more bleeding.  This healing will of course delay the next rounds of chemo, but we're not sure by how much yet.  
The last week was shitty, but it was made so much easier to bear because of our close circle of friends who didn't let us go 5 minutes without doing something to help.

I just don't know how to say "thank you" to you guys. Every time it comes out or the words form, they seem so incredibly inadequate.  
But, I will do it anyway because those are the only ones I know to use:  Thank You.  For bringing coffee and food, for taking our dogs out, for reading to Jill, for sitting quietly, for making Jill laugh, for holding her hand, for holding mine, for being bodyguards and chefs and advocates and caretakers, for making us feel so loved and supported just by being there.  (Special shout out to Shaina, who has now, among other things, cleaned up something resembling a murder scene THREE TIMES over the last week, and our hospital crew - V, Monica, Jamie, Hannah, Wilson, Kitt. I don't always feel worthy of your friendships, but I am so grateful for them.)  And, thanks also to everyone else for all the messages, offers to help, and love you sent our way.

Now, we sleep. 

Posted on August 25, 2017


Posted on August 25, 2017

Hey friends - Since everyone has been reaching out to find out how Jill's surgery went, I thought this might be an easier way to update everyone all at once.

Good news:

1. They think they got all of the (visible) cancer out!  The surgeon said they tested 10-12 samples of surrounding tissue in the operating room, and they were negative for cancer, so we are very hopeful that they got clear margins.  (Pathology will have to confirm this in the next week or two.)  

2. They were able to preserve 2 of the 3 nerves that they were worried about (the hypoglossal nerve and the mandibular branch of the facial nerve). So, Jill's speech and trademark gorgeous smile are still in tact :). 

Bad news:

1. The cancer was in the submandibular gland and wrapped around the duct that goes into the mouth - which ultimately means they had to do a larger excision than they planned, and ended up in the floor of her mouth. So, she's got a lot of stitches and can't eat or drink anything for a week - except through a feeding tube. (You can imagine how thrilled she is about the tube!)

2. They did have to cut out the lingual nerve, which is a sensory nerve in the tongue.  That means Jill will have some tongue numbness and loss of taste on that side.  The rest of the nerves will compensate for it over time, but the nerve is donezo. 

We are still in the hospital at MD Anderson.  The nurses have been teaching us how to feed and medicate through the tube, and how to clean the drain that is sticking out of her neck (which, by the way, has a pretty badass scar now). 

When we get out of here, we will apparently be surviving the Apocalypse thanks to some little storm that is supposed to hit Houston ... wish us luck! 

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