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 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!

Posted on January 8, 2017

Posted on January 8, 2017

Wow! I’m sorry, I never updated after my November re-exam! A few days after we got home, I got a call from my nurse. Wonderful news! I got my EDSS scores and they’re bad, which is GOOD!! If my score holds until my next visit in April, I can transfer out of the control group and finally get my stem cell transplant – my CURE!! Thank you to all who have prayed and donated and supported me on the crazy ride!


As of right now, I’m starting the New Year feeling optimistic about my steps towards this stem cell transplant. My April appointments are booked and we’re working on hotel/airfare. I’ll have blood tests, MRIs (spine and brain), and meet with the Neurologist and the Chief of Immunotherapy, who is running the trial.


This April trip will hopefully (!) be my ticket to moving out of the control group and into the transplant group.


In the meantime, I am finally switching medications. My old medication (Tysabri) has clearly not been working. I have a new neurologist and she has been great and very knowledgeable and is happy to work with my Chicago team. We chose a new medication to try (Rituxin) and have finally obtained insurance authorization. I’m scheduled to begin this week, so I ask for prayers and positive thoughts that it will be an effective medication for me and an easy transition. I go for two IV infusions, two weeks apart, and then I won’t need to be treated again for six months. Six months with no IVs sound wonderful! And by the time that 6 months is up, I will have my “verdict” from Chicago and will hopefully be on my way to getting my stem cell transplant!


As always, thank you to all who have reached out and offered support and encouragement and prayers! I feel like “we” are on this journey and it’s means so much to know I have such a strong team cheering me on. XOXO!

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