Kelsey's Fight Against Brain Cancer

For: Kelsey Flanigan
Organizer: Caitlin Flanigan
of $100,000 goal.
Raised by 1150 donors
79% Complete

The Story

At 23 a majority of us see time as a safety net.  We have the security of knowing we can make mistakes and ridiculous plans; we are allowed to be a little bit fearless. 23 is supposed to be about going out on your own, working hard to make your dreams come true and being somewhat carefree. Three days before my sister’s 23rd birthday on January 15th 2014 she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Her goals and hopes and dreams were forcibly put on hold.  Her college degree and job prospects became secondary to understanding her diagnosis and thinking about survival. 

For those of you who do not know my sister, I should tell you, she’s amazing.  Kelsey is one of the most unique, hilarious, and fearless people I’ve ever met.  If she wasn’t my sister and forced to love me, I would want to be her friend.  She is the kind of person who stands up for others without hesitating and organizes fundraisers in her spare time.  She is an actress, a writer and comedian with an intense passion for art and film. She has excellent taste in music and is always planning her next adventure; Kelsey wants to see the world.  At some point in our lives she stopped being just my sister and became a woman I admire.

At the end of January, just a few weeks after her diagnosis, Kelsey was told she needed to have a craniotomy before her tumor became inoperable. This surgery would remove as much of the 8 x 4 centimeter tumor as possible. She underwent a 7-hour surgery that came with warnings of cognitive deficits, personality changes and paralysis.  She luckily came out of the surgery with minimal side effects, but left the hospital with incredible pain, over 50 staples in her head and a long road ahead. 

Just as Kelsey was moving forward, feeling healthier and able to slowly walk around in public again she received the results of the biopsy taken during surgery.  She was diagnosed with Stage 2 Anaplastic Astrocytoma, which in the past month has been upgraded to a Stage 3.  This is an aggressive form of brain cancer.  Kelsey’s new mission was figuring out how to fight her cancer.  Today, she is juggling the opinions of numerous oncologists and sorting through lists of side effects and outcomes, armed with the knowledge that 50% of the tumor is still in her brain and possibly growing.  In the future she may have more surgeries if the tumor grows.  At the end of this month Kelsey will start radiation in combination with chemotherapy for a period of 6 weeks, then restart the chemotherapy for at least a full year. 

At 23, Kelsey is now faced with insanely scary and complicated decisions that no one should ever have to make.  She is still working, as much as she can, from home.  However, student loans have come due and Kelsey is unsure how much, if at all, she will be able to work while going through periods of treatment.  Our family has been traveling to see specialists in numerous cities, logging hours of time, miles and many extraneous expenses.  Costs are building and there is no insurance for the daily needs of person (and her family) going through cancer treatment. 

My sister has shied away from attention, refused pity and claimed to not be at all brave throughout her battle so far.  She is finally asking for help.  She will need emotional support throughout her journey, which has been present in droves, but she will also need financial support.   Right now Kelsey needs to be allowed to focus on fighting and healing and she shouldn’t have to be afraid of bills.  Our family is working as hard as we can to help my sister through this, but we need some help.  Although we have insurance that covers many of Kelsey’s needs, there are limits.  Not all of the high cost of chemotherapy and radiation will be covered and gene therapy is not covered.  MRIs are costly and need to be conducted frequently to track tumor growth, often more than insurance allows. My parents are taking periods of family leave to better care for and support my sister.  Please, please, please help support my sister in her battle whatever way you can.  Every little bit helps. 

Here is where your generous gifts will go:

- Medications not covered by insurance

- Non-FDA approved chemo drugs with participation of clinical studies
- Numerous travel expenses (lodging for out of state visits, gas mileage, etc.)

- Supplements – Holistic medicine, vitamins, calcium, etc.

- Groceries (staying healthy is sadly expensive)

- Co-Insurance and Co-Payments

- Salary missed

Again, thank you.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on June 8, 2015 by Caitlin Flanigan
Also to the recent Anonymous donors, THANK YOU SO MUCH, I really haven't expected such generosity to continue a year after this was initially posted. But, you have no idea how truly helpful this is for my continued treatment, doctors visits, supplements and everything else in between that comes along with a cancer diagnosis. My family and I are deeply appreciative for this act of kindness.


Posted on June 8, 2015 by Caitlin Flanigan
Hi Everyone! This is Kelsey, just wanted to check back in to say thank you for the recent donations and continued support!! Yesterday was National Cancer Survivors Day and I was able to spend it in such an amazing way at the Voices Against Brain Cancer Run/Walk 5K in Montclair. I spoke at the event on behalf of my fellow "Courage Award" recipients and wanted to share it with all of you!

Here is the link to the Voices Against Brain Cancer Facebook page, it is the latest post there:

Thank you again for your continued support :) 

Posted on February 17, 2015 by Caitlin Flanigan
Hi Everyone! This is Kelsey, just want to say THANK YOU. Even all those capital letters will never encapsulate how thankful I am for your support through kind words, prayers and more than generous donations. 
Here is an update: I finished my 6 1/2 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy this past summer and then from that point on the course of treatment was 6 months to 12 months of maintenance chemo (a lower dose than during my radiation). I continue to get weekly blood work and monthly MRI's. And so far everything is stable! All I can ever hope for is that the MRI's come back stable and they have!
Thank you again for your continued support :)

Posted on June 23, 2014 by Caitlin Flanigan
Hello all!! Thank you for continuing to support Kelsey and our family, you are wonderful!! Just wanted to keep everyone updated, today is Kelsey's first day of chemotherapy and radiation.  She will be going through intensive treatments for six and a half weeks.  Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers!!

Posted on May 1, 2014 by Caitlin Flanigan
Hello wonderful supporters!! Thank you for your continued love and generosity.  The messages posted on this site have given Kelsey amazing feelings of support and community and a renewed sense of positivity.  In about two weeks Kelsey will be undergoing a second craniotomy.  A team of surgeons has agreed that resecting more of her tumor will allow the other treatments a better chance to work.  As soon as she recovers from surgery Kelsey will begin chemotherapy and radiation.  Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers during this next step.  Our whole family sends love and infinite thank yous.

Posted on April 11, 2014 by Caitlin Flanigan
We have been amazed by the outpouring of love and support from friends, family, neighbors and kind strangers who have been touched by Kelsey's story.  We have read every message and you have all made us cry and smile more than we have in a long time!!! Thank you so so much for contributing your thoughts and positivity and thank you for your unbelievable generosity!  I've raised our goal because we initially never believed we could raise 25,000.  Kelsey's needs and bills are beyond that amount and I don't want to hinder her ability to get the best care she can.  Thank you for your continued support, our family has a renewed sense of hope and it is absolutely because of your kindness.  Thank you.

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