A single mom from Tagish has turned to internet crowdfunding to help cover her expenses after being diagnosed with a form of cancer usually found in much older people earlier this year.
Stephenie Worth, 40, said she originally went to her doctor back in February to have iron deficiency and diabetes tests because she was bruising and “wasn’t feeling the greatest.”
However, she told the News in an April 24 interview, the tests found that she had abnormally low white blood cell, red blood cell and platelet counts.
One biopsy and a few medical-related trips to Whitehorse and Vancouver later, Worth said she received news she would have never expected to hear — she had a form of myelodysplastic syndrome, a kind of cancer typically found in people ages 60 and up that affects the ability of a person’s bone marrow to properly produce blood cells.
“I don’t have the cells to fight off an infection,” Worth explained. “I don’t have the cells to stop bleeding if I accidentally cut myself.”
While Worth has a treatment plan in place — she will receive two rounds of low-dose chemotherapy in Whitehorse before flying to Vancouver for a stem cell transplant — what she doesn’t have is the funds to pay for all the unexpected expenses that come with the treatment, her friend Kim Tucker said.
For example, according to Tucker, Worth will have to temporarily move to Whitehorse as she undergoes her initial rounds of chemotherapy, as it would be difficult for her to drive back to Tagish after the treatments.
As well, Worth will have to spend at least four months in Vancouver for her stem cell transplant and for the monitoring and check-ups that will come after it. Tucker said she’s planning on accompanying Worth but will have to occasionally fly back to Whitehorse to handle her own affairs, travel that likely won’t be covered or subsidized by any territorial plans. They’re also anticipating that Worth’s teenage son would want to visit her in Vancouver.
On top of all that, Worth will have to quit her job as the manager for the portrait studio at Walmart.
“(It’s a job) I absolutely love, but now I have to leave it because I can’t fight off infections,” she said.
Tucker said she started a GoFundMe campaign after having to pay her own way down to Vancouver to accompany Worth on one of her earlier medical trips, and seeing Worth panic about how she was going to afford everything when she begins treatment.
“I mean, there’s all these extra costs that you don’t know, you don’t think about, it’s not part of your everyday life until you look at it, right?” Tucker said.
The campaign, which Tucker launched in early April, currently has a goal of $8,000, with just more than $2,600 raised as of the evening of April 30.
Worth said she was grateful for the support she’s receiving so far.
“It’s scary,” she said of her diagnosis, “but I mean, I’ve accepted it. I just need help so I can make sure that my son is taken care of while I am trying to fight for my life.”
Tucker’s GoFundMe campaign for Worth is online at gofundme.com/f/stephenie039s-cancer-trips
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org