Meet our fighters

2017

Katina

photo & story coming soon

 

 

 

 

Dawn

story coming soon

 

Alison

Alison is 29. She’s a wife, mother, chiropractor and small business owner. She’s also a cancer patient.

In the spring of 2015, Alison didn't feel like herself. She was easily fatigued and had an inner "feeling" that something "just wasn't right.” Several blood tests, scans and consults later ... nothing. The only thing that appeared on lab work was high lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell, which is usually indicative of an infection but could be an autoimmune disease or cancer). 

More rounds of tests … and still nothing. A few months later, Alison decided to get her yearly breast MRI, which she had been putting off. You may wonder why a 29 year old needs a yearly breast MRI. Breast cancer plagues Alison’s family. Her mother, aunt and multiple cousins are breast cancer survivors. They have the BRCA1 gene. Alison knew her odds for developing cancer were high, but never did she imagine at the age of 29 she would have to face her biggest fear.

Alison’s suspicions that something wasn’t right were confirmed. After an ultrasound and biopsy, Alison was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, grade three of three (rapidly dividing) and "triple negative" (negative for estrogen, progesterone and her2 receptors). 

Alison left that day feeling angry and alone. Yes, she had several family member who had gone through it, but they were done having kids. She wanted another child. The next few days, she had to meet with an oncologist, surgeon, plastic surgeon and fertility specialist. She felt like her whole world crumbled to pieces.

“Cancer? Fine,” said Alison. “I can't believe I have cancer at my age, but I got this! Surgery? Yes, it sucks but I got this! Chemo? Ugh, if I must, I got this! BUT thinking of not being able to have another child?! It's crushing! DEVASTATING!”  

A thousand questions and scenarios ran through her head. Would she be able to have another child? If she did have another baby, she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed if she chose a mastectomy. If she chose a lumpectomy, would the cancer return? What would the cancer do to her body? She was forced to make major life-altering decisions in just 48 hours.

Since her diagnosis, Alison has undergone a double mastectomy with reconstruction, chemotherapy, fills for expanders, radiation and will receive final implants in 2018. She has been putting herself out there so other young women know they are not alone. 

Through all of this she still feels blessed to have a family and friend support system. She understands how fortunate she is to have the support, as many women do not. 

“My main motto and phrase: Keep up with your health and do your monthly breast exams,” said Alison. “ Eight out of ten women find a lump themselves! Be your own advocate and listen to your inner "feeling" ... you know your body better than anyone. Trust yourself. I'm glad I did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dalton (D-Ray)

At 16 years old, Dalton has faced more battles than most people will ever encounter in a lifetime. In July 2014 – at the age of 13 – Dalton was diagnosed with desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT), an aggressive malignant neoplasm that occurs in adolescents and young adults.

Prior to his diagnosis, he was an active teenager who spent much of his free time playing competitive basketball. He had no symptoms of disease. During a visit to the doctor’s office for a stomach virus, Dalton’s pediatrician discovered a lump in his abdomen.  

After several tests, Dalton and his family received his diagnosis. DSRCT is most commonly found in the abdomen, but Dalton’s had spread to his pelvis and neck area, also infecting many lymph nodes. 
Dalton has had several treatments throughout the past three years: 33 rounds of chemo, three resection surgeries, 30 rounds of abdominal radiation and several hospital stays along the way. 
In 2015, Dalton and his family traveled to MD Anderson in Houston for his first resection surgery and radiation. During that visit, they were away from their home for three months. They made the trip back to Houston again later that year for a second resection surgery.

This summer, Dalton and his family were travelling to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City. He underwent another surgery there where surgeons resected a tumor from his liver and pelvis. He also started an immunotherapy trial that is intended for another cancer, Neuroblastoma. The two cancers share the same target for this therapy, and Dalton is the first patient with DSRCT to try this treatment. Unfortunatly this treatment wasn’t what they hoped and the family has to look for a new treatment since his scans showed cancer has returned to his liver, lungs and other areas of his mid-section.

Dalton has decided to keep fighting, and they are deciding what his next treatment plan will include.  
Throughout his brutally long journey, Dalton has stayed strong and positive. According to his mother, Dalton is the strongest, bravest person she has ever known – not to mention – one of the biggest KU fans out there! 

To help offset some of the medical and travel costs, Damon’s Rally Cap recently presented Dalton and his family with a donation.

Stay strong D-Ray. We’re all rooting for you!
 

 

Liz

Liz was diagnosed with stage 4 non small cell lung cancer in 2014. She was not a smoker. She ran a half marathon the year before. Her only symptom was a nagging cough for three months.
After a week of multiple tests, she started having difficulty breathing. Less than a week later, she had emergency heart surgery due to fluid from her lung accumulating around her heart. She spent seven days in a drug-induced coma. The doctors told Liz’s family she had weeks to months to live. 
Liz then went to MD Anderson in Phoenix. The lung oncologist told us she was too young and previously healthy not to fight this. The plan was chemo every three weeks. The next morning, Liz had a stroke, partially paralyzing the right side of her body (May 2014). She was finally able to start chemo in June 2014. In August 2014, she had a massive blood clot that required surgeries to open up the clot and put in a filter to prevent clots from going to her heart and lungs.

By the end of 2014, Liz had nearly fully recovered from her stroke. Liz continued chemo until November 2016. She had very few symptoms with chemo and was able to stop treatment due to her lung cancer being stable.
In January 2017, Liz’s CT scan showed an enlarged lymph node in her left arm pit. A biopsy and MRI were ordered. The MRI shockingly showed brain metastasis. Doctors were astonished she had no symptoms. Liz had emergency brain surgery to remove the largest tumor near the front left side of her brain.
Two weeks later, she had 10 days of whole-brain radiation. Before she lost her hair due to radiation, Liz shaved her beautiful thick head of hair and donated it to wigs for kids. Genetic testing was done on her lymph node biopsy and determined she had markers that allow her cancer to be treated with a drug that has been on the market less than six months. The drug allows her immune system to fight the cancer. She had her first treatment in March and will have infusion every three weeks.

Liz, a wife and a mom to two young children, continues to bravely fight her battle with cancer. Damon and her husband Steve were high school friends, so Damon’s Rally Cap was honored to offer this family support.

 

 

 

 

Liz and her family

 

   

Valerie

Valerie is a single mom to a 15-year-old daughter and cares for her elderly mother who lives with them. In 2012, Valerie was diagnosed with stage 3b ovarian cancer after going to the doctor for a hernia. Valerie soon underwent debulking surgery and six months of chemotherapy.

Chemo took a tool on Valerie physically and financially, as she was unable to work for eight months.
After a few years of clear check-ups, Valerie learned in January 2017 that her cancer returned in her colon. She had surgery in March to remove the tumor and is currently recovering at home.
Her employer recently discontinued her disability and life insurance coverage, so Valerie has been forced to find other sources of income while she recovers.

Damon’s Rally Cap is pleased to help relieve a little of the stress for her and her daughter.

 

Valerie & her daughter

 

 

 

 

2016

Janice

On Nov. 30, Damon’s Rally Cap Charity presented cancer fighter Janice with a $1,000 check to help her in her fight with breast cancer.

Janice, a Platte City, Missouri resident, was diagnosed with breast cancer on April 19, 2016, after a routine mammogram. Janice opted to pay more for the 3-D mammogram, which, she found out later, was money well spent, as the regular mammogram likely would not have caught the lump.

On May 20, Janice had a lumpectomy performed. Unfortunately, the tumor wasn’t completely removed, so she had a second surgery three days later. Beginning in June, Janice began radiation therapy and completed 10 treatments. While Janice is on the winning end of our fight with cancer, she had a set-back in July when doctors discovered an infection, likely from her multiple surgeries.

Janice had another surgery on Dec. 6 to the source of the infection. She is still recovering, which has kept her from returning to work full-time. The funds from Damon’s Rally Cap will Janice fulfill her holiday wish of traveling to Alabama to spend time with her son.
 

 

  Janice & Amy

 

   

Elli

Meet Elli – a 12-year-old girl with an infectious smile and a heart of gold. On April 16, 2016, Elli was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer. School activities, sleepovers and sports have been put on hold so Elli and her family can focus on the battle before them.

Elli began chemotherapy to fight five large tumors throughout her body as well as multiple smaller tumors in her lungs. The tumor in her kidney grew into her inferior vena cava – the main blood vessel that carries filtered blood from her kidneys to her lungs, resulting in multiple blood transfusions.

In June, scans revealed that the tumors were shrinking, but not as much as everyone had hoped. Elli began radiation a few days later on her 12th birthday. In late July, Elli and her family found out the cancer was also in her liver.  

Elli underwent a seven-hour surgery in October at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Surgeons were able to remove her right tumor and thrombosis in her inferior vena cava; however, active cancer cells had to be left behind because of their proximity to her heart.

Since her diagnosis, Elli has been in and out of hospitals. She is currently in the throes of a five-day chemo series every three weeks, which requires hospitalization. She has a feeding tube due to a loss of appetite and nausea. In addition to her treatment, Elli participates in homebound school two days a week with her teacher.    

Elli’s mom left her job to be by her side throughout her cancer battle. Elli’s dad is a residential contractor but came down pneumonia from his visit at St. Jude and hasn’t been able to work full-time.

Damon’s Rally Cap Charity was honored to visit with this amazing fighter on Nov. 29 and present her family with a donation to help brighten their holidays. 

Throughout her pain and her battle with cancer, Elli continues to rally with hope (and with a bright smile).

 

Kendall,Elli & Amy
Damon's Rally Cap gave Elli and her family $1000 to help make the holidays a little brighter.

 

 

 

Jill Heckman a figher herself, got us in touch with Elli and her family. Jill and her family were also there to give Elli a gift from Jill's Hope Foundation.

 

Jill

Jill went for her first mammogram in November 2013 only because her co-worker kept asking her to – not because she felt something or had a family history of breast cancer. Jill was told she had a lot of calcification in her right breast and was asked to come back in six months. Half a year later, Jill had another mammogram where they discovered more calcification. Next came a sonogram and then an MRI. After suspicious MRI results, Jill was sent for biopsies, which confirmed what the doctors were thinking … cancer.  
In July of 2014, Jill underwent a double mastectomy and started chemo right away. After finishing chemo, she started 2016 off with radiation. While Jill was undergoing treatment, she was also going through reconstruction (a feat most breast cancer fighters would agree is significantly harder than chemo and radiation). She was finally done with treatment and reconstruction in August 2016. Three weeks later, she noticed a lump on her left side. On her 44th birthday, Jill received confirmation that her cancer was ALREADY back.
Jill endured a grueling clinical trial, switched oncologists and eventually had her new tumor and implant removed. She then underwent three weeks of twice-a-day radiation, and the cancer still came back.
Jill has Triple Negative BC on her left breast and had HER2 positive BC on her right. She is now on maintenance chemo every three weeks. She is a mother to three children and worked full-time during her initial diagnosis. Through all of this, Jill started her own foundation to aid others who are fighting cancer.

In December, Damon’s Rally Cap presented Jill with $1,000 to assist with her own medical travel costs and personal expenses. Her fight, selflessness and desire to help others is inspiring and we’ll never stop rallying with hope for Jill and the cause.

Sadly, Jill lost her battle to cancer on August 24, 2017.

   
 

Amy & Jill
Damon's Rally Cap gave Jill $1000 to help
with her expenses.

   

 

 

Lane

Lane's journey began in June of 2010. The husband and father of two young children was experiencing awful headaches in the morning when he woke up. He went to the doctor, who had him keep a journal. After about a week or so, he was driving home from work and realized his vision was a bit blurry. When he let the doctor know, they did a CT right away, which then led to an MRI, which then led us to the neurosurgeon's office later that afternoon. 
Lane had his first brain surgery four days later. The following August, he was all set to start chemo and radiation when his oncologist realized the surgeon didn't get as much as he'd originally thought. The first tumor was almost the size of a newborn baby's head. He then went to Mayo where they did another surgery that had an MRI machine in the room. After that he did a month of radiation and some chemo (in pill form), and Lane had four years of clean scans.
In July of 2014 another small tumor popped up at the edge of the original resection. He went back to Mayo and the same surgeon took that tumor completely out. He then did a 12-month chemo pill cycle. He had a few months of nothing after that, but then in January of last year they decided to try another chemo pill instead. Then in June of 2016, another tumor on his Basil Ganglia (toward the back of the brain) popped up that they could not remove without completely paralyzing him - or death.
He tried chemo again, but where the tumor was located made him slowly lose the motor skills on his left side. Things slowly went downhill, and in early October he had a grand mal seizure at home. In November, Lane was back at Mayo after another horrible headache. Lane and his family had to decide on their next step of care. Together, Lane and his family made the decision to bring in hospice to handle his care plan.
Damon’s Rally Cap Charity learned about Lane’s story from one of our supporters in Iowa and presented his family with a check to help shine a little light on their holiday.   

Lane fought a heroic battle, but sadly, lost his battle to cancer on Jan. 10.

 

Damon’s Rally Cap also surprises cancer patients with Rally Packs filled with goodies and gift cards.

 

Emma

Emma - a seventh grader from Panora, Iowa - is our first fighter to receive a Rally Pack, which is filled with goodies, gift cards and a few other fun surprises. Emma is fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Thank you to Damon's Rally Cap supporter Ashley Schable for hand delivering this package to Emma and her family.

 

Wendy

Damon’s Rally Cap supporter Renee delivered a Rally Pack to Wendy in Omaha who is in the midst of kicking breast cancer. You’ve got this, Wendy!

 

 

Billy

Billy recently had to relocate but is still receiving treatment for colon cancer. We paid for his hotel stay during his treatment and gave him a rally pack that included gift cards to QT and Walmart to help with expenses.

 

       

 

 

 

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