Lorraine Moysir is surrounded by people who want to help her get better.
The 33-year-old Chilliwack woman is fighting cancer, but she’s also fighting for the treatment that could attack the particular cancer cells in her body. Going through treatment is tough enough, but to make matters worse, the chemotherapy drug she’s been advised to take is not covered by the BC Cancer Agency.
At least, not for the type of cancer she has.
Moysir was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015, after a long process of misdiagnoses. In the medical runaround of doctor’s appointments, imaging and ER visits, she had been told it was sciatica, then bulging discs.
“That didn’t make sense to me,” she said. “So I kept digging and digging and digging.”
She was eventually given the diagnosis of cervical cancer, but there was more bad news. It had already spread into her lymph nodes.
The single mother entered into the world of cancer treatment and all that it entails, learning new terminology, dealing with chemotherapy side effects like nausea and hair loss, and then a combination of radiology and chemo. After a small break from that, she could feel her lymph nodes were still enlarged.
“I was given a cancer drug that was typically used for lung cancer,” she said, but was taken off of that, too.
She got a new oncologist who wanted a biopsy. The sample was sent off to a company called Contextual Genomics, who came back with some interesting news. The cell structure of the cancer cells was very similar to kidney cancer.
And there’s a drug for kidney cancer — Afinitor.
Her oncologist decided to give Afinitor a try, for the off-label benefits. But the BC Cancer Agency, which does fund well-tested cancer drugs treatments, denied the drug for Moysir.
She managed to buy some of the drugs herself with private donations, but at a whopping $7,000 a month it’s not a financially sustainable treatment option.
When she told all of this to her friend, Natalie Spencer, the idea of holding a series of fundraisers began to grow. And as the ideas gained steam, some of Spencer’s friends joined forces. And that ball is still rolling. So far, there are more than a half dozen fundraisers in the works. They hope to raise $30,000 for Moysir, so she can focus on her health and her seven-year-old daughter.
“I told (Natalie) about the off-label uses and she said if it might work, we need to get the money,” Moysir says. “‘Do you mind if we get something going?’”
She was able to start taking the drug in early August, and it’s too early to know if it’s working. But Moysir is determined to try everything available to fight back the cancer cells.
“We’ve had testing a couple weeks ago,” she said. “But it’s too soon to really tell what the drug itself is doing. It’s too close to the start date of the drug, but the cancer is progressing, as is the nature of the beast.”
She said there is talk in the cancer drug world of starting clinical trials, but there is no way to know if she would be included. And there’s no way to know if the testing would come in time to help.
She has no fear of taking Afinitor for off-label use.
“They all have potential risks, and this one is no more or less than the others,” she said.
Moysir’s friends, new and old, are reaching out to the business community for even more ways to fundraise.
“We are determined to help Lorraine receive her treatment,” their letter says. “We have numerous fundraisers happening in the months of September and October. We are asking our local community members to step up and help us with our goal by providing items or gift certificates for our silent auctions and raffles.”
“Lorraine is a single mother to her amazing 7-year-old daughter. They are on a very tough journey at the moment and we would like to make it a little easier, if we can.”
There are already multiple ways to get involved and help Moysir access her prescription medication.
The first fundraiser will be a city wide bottle drive this Saturday, Sept. 10. Anyone wanting to donate bottles or cans should bring them to the Cottonwood Mall parking lot between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
For those who can’t make the drop-off time there, donations can be made at the Chilliwack Bottle Depot at 45934 Trethewey Ave. during business hours, under account number 510: Chilliwack for Lorraine.
And on Saturday, Sept. 17, there will be a Fit for a Cause Zumba event at Spencer Studios at 45905 Hocking Ave. The suggested minimum donation for the class is $10, and there are classes at 8:30 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.
There will also be a Ladies Night learning some hip hop dance moves with plenty of sass, on Friday, Sept. 23 at Spencer Studios. Tickets are $30 and participants must be 19.
If burgers are more your thing, drop by Burgers with Purpose at Triple Play Pub on Sept. 24, from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 each.
Finally, Party for a Cause at The Well (inside Chances) is on Oct. 1. A $15 ticket gives you a $5 free play, and five raffle tickets for door prizes. There will be live entertainment, a special menu for ticket holders, a 50/50 and silent auction.
For more information on any of the fundraisers, email email@example.com, for visit the Chilliwack for Lorraine Facebook page.