Help Monika Phillips-Whiteaker kick cancer to the curb!

For: Monika Phillips-Whiteaker
Madison, WI
Organizer: Leslie Phillips
$7,567
of $15,000 goal.
Raised by 106 donors
50% Complete
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The Story

This is Leslie, I am the younger sister of Monika. This campaign is to help raise some funds for her.

In early February of this year, our family was faced with devastating news, Monika had cancer. Monika told me she had been diagnosed with a cancer called, "adenocarcinoma". Monika has the cervical version of this type of cancer. It is a more aggressive and rare type of cervical cancer, found in approximately 10% of all cervical cancer patients.

The first step in her treatment was surgery, where they planned on doing a hysterectomy. During surgery, they discovered her cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. The pathology tests showed that she tested positive for cancer in 6 of the 30 nodes that were removed. For this reason, the doctors decided NOT to do the hysterectomy. Instead, she was told that she should immediately begin a fairly intensive series of chemotherapy and radiation. She has just completed 5 chemo treatments (once a week) and external radiation (5 days per week) for six weeks. The docs also added a series of 5 treatments of an internal "high dose" type of radiation, where Monika was "put under" anesthesia and a small piece of radiation was implanted close to her cervical tumor. So, the very week after surgery, she began her treatments.

Monika has had pretty severe reactions to all that poison in her body. She has had everything from the expected chemo nausea, to stabbing headaches, severe hip pain, uncontrollable shaking, dizziness and lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, strange rashes, and very high fevers. We are blessed to have the best Mom on the planet, who gave up much of her free time to selflessly care for my sister during this time. Monika's best friend, Maria, also cared for her several times. She has been coming from Chicago and staying with her through ER visits and chemotherapy. She has also been a huge help and strong emotional support for my sister these past few months.

Before this whole nightmare began, Monika and her partner, Nate, decided to make a bigger commitment in their relationship. Late last Fall, they decided to co-habitate and bought a new house in Oregon, WI. Nate and his two teenage children (Grant and Grace) along with my sister and her 9-year old son, Jaren, all moved into their new house. My sister told me that life was good and that she had finally found the love of her life in Nate. Nate has not only been patient and nurturing in his care for Monika, but also for her young son. In January of this year, my sister had also gotten a new job. Unfortunately, due to that job switch, and not knowing what lie ahead, she lost really good health insurance. She also lost out on any chance for sick-time or disability pay. On top of everything else, she just found out that they decided to eliminate her position at work...So, while trying to battle cancer, she has now lost her job.

We are grateful that she has Federal Marketplace insurance, but anyone who has it (me) knows that it isn't the best. Monika has already accrued thousands of dollars in medical bills, and it is only just the beginning. The house she and Nate purchased was based on BOTH of their incomes, of which, my sister now has none. The amount we are hoping to raise should (hopefully) cover much of her medical expenses and give her more time to heal before she begins her SECOND round of chemo treatment in about a month. So, we are ultimately relying on the kindness of others to help carry her through.

It is imperative that everyone understand that we do NOT expect donations. Many of you have shown huge support with continued positive thoughts, prayers, meals, cards, gifts, visits, and hugs. Give if you can, and keep sending out healing thoughts and prayers for my big Sis.

Please share this page if you feel so inclined. 

Much Love...

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on May 24, 2017

Posted on May 24, 2017

Hi Everyone! Monika just finally got in to see her primary oncologist. My Mom was able to go with my sister to that appointment. This is the email update to me (and family and friends), from our Mom. I thought I would share what she wrote:

Hi All,

Just wanted to let you know the results of consulting with the oncologist on Monday. Monika will have four chemo treatments starting on June 6th and every three weeks after until the four are completed. She will have frequent blood draws during this process to determine if treatment can proceed. If not, her body will need more time to recover and she will try again the next week. She will experience hair loss and a compromised immune system. Any fever will need to be looked at for infection. It's possible that Monika could have a reaction to the drugs. If that happens, medication to counteract this will be given and the treatment will still continue. In the process, if it is determined that the course of treatment seems to be causing more harm than good, it will be stopped. Neuropathy (numbness and tingling to the fingers and toes) is a possible side effect. Monika will be watched closely for that as sometimes the condition is permanent. If that happens, the drug dose may be adjusted. There is also the chance of getting leukemia further down the road as a result of the chemo drugs and of course, other possible side effects.

The doctor said that this chemo regimen is all there is for the kind of cancer Monika has. He also said that the understanding today shows a benefit to this treatment but it is still being studied and not conclusive. That makes the decision to proceed more difficult. Monika said that by going ahead, she has done everything she can. She doesn't want to wonder down the road if she should have done this.

On a happier note, it has been good to see Monika looking well on the outside and able to do some things. We went to an appointment last week to look at wigs. She'll get a free one. It was a fun visit and there are many cute wigs to pick from. Today, she'll go back for the final selection. The woman was ordering a couple more in different colors of the two styles that Monika narrowed it down to. She was given some cute lightweight hats which will be great for summer. Ryan (this is our brother, for those that don't know) is gearing up for shaving his head in solidarity. What a brother!

Once again, thank you for your kindness and generosity to Monika. It allows her to just concentrate on getting well. We are eternally grateful. ❤️ 


Love you all,
Arlene & Randy (our Mom and Dad)

Posted on May 12, 2017

Posted on May 12, 2017

Hello Everyone-
Today marks just 3 weeks left to help spread the word about this fundraiser. I am asking that if y'all would be so kind as to share this to your Facebook pages, it would be much appreciated. It helps to say something on the "share" like "this is my friend" or "this is my friend's sister". Monika had her first treatment follow up with her radiologist yesterday, and it was good news! The doctor said she has responded well to her treatment thus far and her tumor has shrunk! We are all so happy to hear this news. :)

Near the end of May, Monika will meet with her primary oncologist and get more details regarding the second round of treatment which will begin around that time. The second round of chemo will be stronger than the last one, and since Monika was so ill the first time we are all concerned as to how that will go. For now, though, we are all happy that she gets a few more weeks of healing and rest before that has to happen. We have missed seeing her laugh and smile. My sister has a damn fine sense of humor too. 

Monika will lose her hair with the second chemo treatment, something she is trying to mentally prepare herself for. If you know my Sis, you know that this part is going to be really hard for her. It is
much easier to hide being ill, when it doesn't look so obvious on the outside. My sister will look adorable bald, I am thinking Demi Moore in GI Jane. She has a beautiful face, so she is going to rock her new "do". 

Please keep Monika and our family in your thoughts and prayers. We can feel all the LOVE and are so incredibly grateful for all your kind words, donations, hugs, texts, phone calls, and visits. 

Posted on May 4, 2017

Posted on May 4, 2017

Monika asked me to write this update after just 24 hours of going live. Why?! She is feeling overwhelmed (in the best way!) with gratitude at the out pouring of love and support from all of you! We are all shocked that this campaign has raised almost $3,500 in just 24 hours. Monika and I shared texts much of the day today, her in Madison and me in Milwaukee. We both had feelings of disbelief and AWE amidst mutual tears at the awesome love we feel for all your words of encouragement and support. She (and I and our family) want to thank each of you individually for all of your contributions/kndness. I did my best to text and message all my pals that generously donated, but I am behind on a phone call or two. 😘 Let me say that Monika needed this.... As her sister I can tell you that she hasn't always been able to ask for help. So, I had to finally convince her to let me handle that part for her. I am grateful she is finally allowing people to assist her and being brutally honest about the reality of her situation. Cancer sucks!
In order to allow this fundraiser to happen, she had to come to terms with going "public" about her illness, and simply allowing those that love her/us and our family to help. Some of you that generously donated dont even know us at all. We are in complete awe. I know, with all of my being, that love can heal people. Today my sister was so overwhelmed by love it brought her (and me) to tears several times. This is how I know she is healing. She passes along a million and one thank you/s. Gratitude abounds. ❤️ 

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