A Saskatchewan mom with a life-ending illness is counting on the kindness of strangers to help her have just a little more time with her children.
Michelle Nelson, a former professional boxer and mother-of-two from Saskatoon, has terminal cancer. Immunotherapy is her only hope to spend more time with her kids, who are three and nine years old. The family now lives in Kelowna.
“My background in boxing has helped me fight and keep fighting. But if I didn’t have the reason of my children, the battle would be ten times harder. They’re my motivation,” Nelson said.
Immunotherapy uses a person’s immune system to fight diseases like cancer, according to cancer.org. It can be done in different ways, including stimulating the body’s immune system to find and attack cancer cells and/or developing immune system components in a lab that are injected into the body to do the same job.
The problem is the immunotherapy treatments aren’t covered by her provincial health care and she doesn’t qualify for private insurance, so she’s turning to the public for help.
“I know at my stage it’s terminal, but I will take whatever time I can with them.”
She has battled adenocarcinoma cervical cancer for eight years; enduring rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, surviving major surgeries, and even travelling to Mexico for experimental treatments.
Nothing has stopped the cancer from spreading, but immunotherapy has slowed it, giving her priceless time with her kids.
“They’re so sweet, they need me and I want to see them grow up. I want to make it to my daughter’s kindergarten class and my son’s graduation… I don’t want to miss out.”
As of Sept. 14, 2020, she’s undergone seven immunotherapy treatments, costing almost $40,000.
The treatments are scheduled about three weeks apart. If all goes well, Nelson hopes to complete one year of them, 17 in total.
Her sister, Shawna Rachul, has set up a GoFundMe to cover some of the costs. The goal is to raise $60,000.
“I’ve been kind of bugging her for a while to set up a fundraiser, but Michelle doesn’t like asking for help because she’s so strong,” Rachul said.
“She wants to be here for the kids, she’s determined to be here for them.”