HSCT for Jodie! Farewell MS!

For: Jodie Bissig
Laton, CA
Organizer: The Stevens & Bissig Families
$10,157
of $20,000 goal.
Raised by 76 donors
50% Complete
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The Story

Thank you for visiting my page! My name is Jodie and I live in Central California with my husband Russell and our two kids, Mia (11) and Matthew (7 1/2). We are fundraising for the costs we will incur as I particiapte in a clinical trial in Chicago. Here is my story:

My health problems started with vision loss, which to a mother, photographer, and artist, was terrifying enough. Then came the words “multiple sclerosis.” Multiple Sclerosis means “many scars.” For unknown reasons, my body attacks healthy nerves and tissues and leaves behind damage called lesions. My legs are incredibly weak, I feel off-balance, I am exhausted beyond words, and it’s a challenge just to get through the day.

And then things got worse: my medications weren’t working. I’ve had one relapse after another and my disease is aggressive. I’m now on the strongest drug available – one my neurologist calls “the big guns.” But big guns come with big risks and big side effects. Most patients can only safely be on this drug for 2 or 3 years… and I’m only 36 years old!

Even with the medications, I am struggling. What do you do when you feel your life, your independence, and your movement, slowly being taken away?

Me? I am participating in a clinical trial. Dr. Burt is a brilliant doctor at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago and he is pioneering a stem cell transplant (HSCT) that has the promise to stop MS. Essentially his treatment will reboot my faulty immune system using chemotherapy, and then rebuild it using my own stem cells. Patients who have had this treatment no longer require MS medication and the majority have NO NEW MS symptoms!

So here we go! I need strength and support and financial help to fight harder than ever to overcome this dreadful disease and be here for my daughter and son. Your donations will help with medical expenses, travel costs, and will help keep things running smoothly at home while mommy is away getting tests and treatment.

Thank you for reading my story and thank you for your donations. I am humbled and honored by the friends and family who are supporting me in this biggest challenge of my life.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on May 26, 2017

Posted on May 26, 2017

A lot has changed since my last update. Chicago wanted me to come back for a re-check in June before my next doses of medication. I thought and wondered and prayed about it for several weeks before deciding not to go. I’ve gone there FIVE times and I am no closer to getting the treatment. I just don’t feel like a re-check is going to make any difference at all and, quite frankly, I’ve lost confidence in this process. It’s an expensive trip – not just financially, but emotionally and physically, too. I told them I was declining the “offer” of re-testing and would stay with my twice per year schedule, as required by the trial.



In the meantime, I decided it’s time I look at some other options. There is a similar clinical trial taking place in Denver and Seattle, although I had been told meeting the criteria was very difficult. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to apply. So I did! They almost immediately responded that it seems I am eligible. They requested my medical records from alllllll of my doctors, reviewed those, and called and said they’d like to see me for an evaluation. Everything on paper looks like I am a good fit. The best news of all? This trial is in Phase II, which means if I get in, I will get the stem cell transplant (no risk of getting control group again).



They’ve scheduled me an appointment in about three weeks, so we will fly to Colorado and see if I’m eligible. I haven’t quit Chicago’s trial, and I’m struggling with guilt from the idea of giving up. But I need an easier option. I’ve felt like every step of the way with Chicago has been a struggle and a battle and they’ve broken my heart too many times to count. Denver, so far, is feeling much easier and like a much better fit.



I’m not sure where exactly I’m supposed to end up, but right now, I’m hoping for some answered prayers and an easier path. Thank you for all who continue to support me and pray for me. I hope I will have some wonderful news to report after my visit in Denver in a few weeks.


Posted on April 18, 2017

Posted on April 18, 2017

So...... about Chicago. I know I've been quiet since coming home. I cannot transfer into the transplant group right now. I can go back in a few months to re-test, but I'm not sure I will. As of right now, I'm stuck and I'm sad. I'm really unsure of what's coming next, but I will keep fighting. If you have questions, I understand. But unfortunately I don't have any answers... I'm praying for clarity and guidance and confidence I am making the right choices.

Posted on March 13, 2017

Posted on March 13, 2017

Three weeks until my next trip to Chicago! This trip will include spine and brain MRIs, blood tests, a neurology appointment, and an appointment with my oncologist. This is a meaningful trip - I've been in the control group for one year now and am eligible to transfer over to the transplant group if my scores remain unchanged. 


In addition to being an important trip, this will also be an expensive trip - hotels are higher because of Spring break and conferences in the area, and I have almost $3000 to go before my deductible is met. Our airfare has been covered by my husband's family, but we are fundraising for hotel, meals, transportation to and from the airport, and medical expenses. If you are able to help financially or with prayers, we are so appreciative. Thank you for continuing to support my participation with this clinical trial. It's been a crazy 18 months, for sure!

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