Help Monika Phillips-Whiteaker kick cancer to the curb!

For: Monika Phillips-Whiteaker
Madison, WI
Organizer: Leslie Phillips
Help Monika Phillips-Whiteaker kick cancer to the curb! (Monika Phillips-Whiteaker)
of $15,000 goal
55% Complete
Raised by 115 donors
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

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 July 18, 2017

Posted on July 18, 2017

Hi Everyone!
I thought it was time to send y'all an update on Monika, since it has been awhile. This email is from our Mom and was dated 6/28/17. I am happy to report that this current round of treatment has gone SO much better than the first! After today, Monika has just one more chemo treatment! She will have a scan after her last chemo, and we are all assuming she will be cancer free. We all have felt the love, prayers, hugs, and positive vibes since the beginning. For that, we are eternally grateful. This year has been a challenging one for our family, and we are all ready to get back to "normal" life, whatever that is after something like this. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer! Here is the email from our Mom:

Hi All,

Monika had her second chemo treatment yesterday and all went well. So far, this regimen is much kinder to her than the initial treatment with chemo and radiation. Blood gets drawn the day before and also ten days after treatment. It tells the doctors if Monika can proceed with treatment and if she needs any kind of procedure in-between. So far, so good. Her next treatment is July 18th. If all goes well, the last one will be August 8th.

Do you remember Sinead O'Conner, the Irish singer who shaved her head? Monika is doing her impression of Sinead without the singing. On Saturday, she cut off her slim ponytail. Then, Nate shaved her head. He cut his hair too but left stubble. Ryan went the distance in solidarity and texted Monika his picture. Leslie? (jk) I was surprised that Monika was more free without hair than I thought she'd be. Yesterday, she went to treatment wearing a cute cap with a brim. Her baldness was apparent on the back of her head below the cap. At home, she wore a hat when her head got cold. Otherwise, she went without. I didn't see a wig on her once in the two days I was there
Randy and I appreciate your care and kindness. Please continue to keep Monika and our family in your prayers. We'll need them through treatment and beyond.

Love you all,

Posted on June 8, 2017

Posted on June 8, 2017

Monika wanted me to pass this along to all of you that generously donated to this campaign. Together we raised over $10,400 to help her rest and heal through the summer during her chemo treatments. She told me the other day that she doesn't know what she would have done without this! So much gratitude to all of you!! ❤️ 

From Monika:

I want to send out a sincere THANK YOU to all the people that have reached out to help me through my fight with cancer. From those that have given to my fundraiser… friends, family, friends of family & friends, classmates, previous coworkers, neighbors, and even strangers! All the texts, emails, FB posts,
phone calls, cards, letters, gift baskets, food, flowers, and visits have melted my heart with your overwhelming support, encouragement, and kindness! Overwhelming to the point of tears… Thank you for all your positive thoughts and the constant prayers! All of you have helped strengthen my faith, hope, and drive to beat this!!!! My mother, sister, my love Nate, and bf Maria, have been with me through the worst of this battle. From long hours at the ER, to helping me with my household and taking care of my son, my mother driving me when I couldn’t to my appointments, helping me while suffering through high fevers, being my caretaker while I was bed ridden for 5 weeks; not being able to walk on my own- even just to use the bathroom, and needing help with bathing. You have seen me on some dark days, and have helped me survive through this, even on days when I wanted to give up.
I was completely blindsided with this devastating news. I felt great when I was diagnosed, and was in complete shock when I heard the word “cancer”. PLEASE, please get your annual physical, and be a strong advocate for your own health. If I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor, I still wouldn’t know now that I have this dreadful disease today.
I feel love for you all, and I’m so grateful you have touched my life!!! I still have my 2nd round of chemo to finish. I’ll be finished in August, but it will take a toll on my immune system again. Please keep praying and reaching out so I can win this fight! Your kindness will never be forgotten.

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)

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