Matt and Cathreen's Cancer Treatment Family Fund

For: Matt and Cathreen Salesses
Cedar Rapids, IA
Organizer: Jimin Han, Kevin Vollmers, and Kirstin Chen
Matt and Cathreen's Cancer Treatment Family Fund (Matt and Cathreen Salesses)
$99,579
of $90,000 goal
100% Complete
Raised by 1156 donors

The Story

Update from Matt 9/25/17:

Dear everyone,
Thank you so much of your support so far. Without it, Cathreen would not be alive. She wasn't able to eat for months, and so had to be hospitalized and fed through IV. Luckily, the chemo has opened a pathway into her stomach, so she is eating again and was just cleared to go back home between chemo treatments. This is great great news, as she will be able to see the baby now. 
Unfortunately, because of her weakened immune system, the hospital required her to be in a single room, so that she would not catch anything from another patient. Korean insurance is amazing and is covering 90-95% of everything else, but wouldn't cover a single room, only a shared room. This means that she has mostly used up the funds you all so generously donated. Those funds have already saved her life so far, but we have to ask for more.
Cathreen's doctor is one of the foremost researchers in her field and is working on a new and experimental chemo treatment that has been offered to Cathreen for her next rounds of chemo. She will likely start this soon, but because it is experimental, it isn't covered by insurance. We are asking for additional support to help her continue her chemo treatments, now that she is finally out of the hospital full-time. My daughter and I will visit her and the baby in December and stay with them for eight months, but this will exhaust all of our savings and then some. We are looking forward to being all together again, but we need more help.
You all have been absolutely amazing so far, and we are hopeful that this new chemo will work miracles. If not, Cathreen still has a few other options. With your additional support, we hope that she will be able to recover in the next 2 years and return to America, where we can live together as a family again.
Thank you,
Matthew, Cathreen, Grace, and Kai

The backstory:

Matt's wife Cathreen was diagnosed with stomach cancer in March, 2017. Needless to say, this is an overwhelming time for the family, particularly because Matt and Cathreen just had a second child. Please partner with us to help support Matt and Cathreen's cancer fund!

Cathreen left for Korea with her and Matt's 4-month-old son to seek treatment at one of Korea's best cancer hospitals. At the time, they believed she would remain in Korea for 9 months. Meanwhile, Matt stayed behind with their older daughter. Matt and Grace moved to Iowa City to take a permanent teaching position at Coe College, where they live now.

In Korea, Cathreen's doctors redid her tests and discovered the cancer had spread, putting her at Stage 4. The cancer quickly overcame her stomach and meant that she couldn't eat. She was put on chemo and has been doing treatments ever since, hoping the cancer will be eliminated from the other parts of her body, so that she can undergo surgery.

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Fundraiser Updates

Posted on January 29, 2018

UpdateImage

Posted on January 29, 2018

Update from Matt 1/28/2018: Thoughts on Love from the Cancer Ward
I have been thinking a lot about our human need to love and be loved, and the need for others in the process of making a “self.” We have different selves for different ways of loving, and all of those selves are indeed separate and also linked. I guess what I’ve been thinking about is community and how the community we have also makes the community of selves with which we fight to live a whole life. You all are my community and I have tried to become the kind of writer and person worthy of your love. And then there is this other community I am suddenly adjacent to, of people surviving cancer, of people entirely aware of life. I have felt inadequate to this community, and to my wife, but I think that the love from you all makes me able to meet the great possibilities of life that those closest to death are always dressed in. My wife and I go to Seoul three weeks out of every four and chemicals that slowly kill her pump through her body to slow down the fast death of her body turning against itself. The part of this chemo covered by her insurance, the tried and true, costs a couple of hundred bucks. The part of her chemo that risks more, that gives us hope in the experiment of human reaching, costs a couple of thousand bucks because the government has not yet confirmed that this medicine indeed brings life. Every week my wife survives in a community of hope, and every week you all make that possible and make it possible for me to join her. My deepest thanks and love. I see you and I apologize for not being able to offer more words, more personal words, more frequent communication, but know that you all are constantly in my thoughts and are the greatest inspiration besides my wife who wants so badly to live that she is willing to kill her body which is killing her. Xoxo. Your friend and admirer.

Posted on December 23, 2017

UpdateImage

Posted on December 23, 2017

Update from Matt 12/22/2017:

Hi from Korea, where my wife just finished her third round/first full cycle of the experimental chemo we are hoping will help her. She’s doing way better than she was over the summer, when she couldn’t eat and often couldn’t move. We are all living together as a family of four in her sister’s house. With these treatments Cathreen has a couple of bad days a week, but usually by the end of the week we can go out together. I’ve attached a photo from our latest outing. 

This chemo is far easier on her than the last, but will likely take out her hair and is far more expensive—about $2,000 a week! So we are so so grateful for the support. Cathreen hopes to continue living this way for a long time; the hope that she would be able to have curative surgery is now much further, but the chemo does seem to be working in that it has allowed her to be active again. 

Parenting two kids with a sick mom is difficult, but the baby has grown up wonderfully and follows his sister around everywhere. The kids are a joy and it’s hard to look at their futures and see such struggle ahead. 
Thank you endlessly for your generosity and support. 

Posted on September 25, 2017

Posted on September 25, 2017

A Letter from Matt:

Dear everyone,
Thank you so much of your support so far. Without it, Cathreen would not be alive. She wasn't able to eat for months, and so had to be hospitalized and fed through IV. Luckily, the chemo has opened a pathway into her stomach, so she is eating again and was just cleared to go back home between chemo treatments. This is great great news, as she will be able to see the baby now. 
Unfortunately, because of her weakened immune system, the hospital required her to be in a single room, so that she would not catch anything from another patient. Korean insurance is amazing and is covering 90-95% of everything else, but wouldn't cover a single room, only a shared room. This means that she has mostly used up the funds you all so generously donated. Those funds have already saved her life so far, but we have to ask for more.
Cathreen's doctor is one of the foremost researchers in her field and is working on a new and experimental chemo treatment that has been offered to Cathreen for her next rounds of chemo. She will likely start this soon, but because it is experimental, it isn't covered by insurance. We are asking for additional support to help her continue her chemo treatments, now that she is finally out of the hospital full-time. My daughter and I will visit her and the baby in December and stay with them for eight months, but this will exhaust all of our savings and then some. We are looking forward to being all together again, but we need more help.
You all have been absolutely amazing so far, and we are hopeful that this new chemo will work miracles. If not, Cathreen still has a few other options. With your additional support, we hope that she will be able to recover in the next 2 years and return to America, where we can live together as a family again.
Thank you,
Matthew, Cathreen, Grace, and Kai

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